By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
At least two Iranian news agencies and several websites are reporting that an Iranian official in charge of reconstruction efforts in Lebanon has been assassinated by "Zionists." The official, pictures of whom have been posted by the hard-line Fars news agency, is identified as Commander Haj Hassan Shateri.
Commander Haj Hassan Shateri
Fars, which is closely aligned with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, says Shateri was "in charge of the Iranian delegation and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and later in Lebanon."
It says Shateri was involved in "war engineering and road building" in war zones. Shateri is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, where he was a Revolutionary Guards commander.
According to the report, he was killed somewhere outside of Iran on February 12 by "the executioners" of Israel.
The account gave no details about where Shateri was allegedly killed or how he died.
Haj Hassan Shateri in south Lebanon
The news appears to be corroborated by the Abna news agency, which on February 13 reported that the head of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, visited Shateri's family the same day to confirm "his martyrdom" and offer condolences.
It is not clear whether Shateri was a member of the Quds Force, a special unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said to be tasked with conducting overseas operations.
Western governments have accused Iran and the Quds force of aiding the bloody conflict in Syria by providing military and financial support to Damascus. Iran denies this and says it has helped prevent the massacre of civilians.
In recent years, several Iranian nuclear scientists have been targeted in a series of assassinations blamed on Israel.
Shateri's funeral will be held on February 14 in Tehran, according to Fars. He will be buried in his hometown of Semnan.
Copyright (c) 2013 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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