Deaths of Iranian Senior Commander and Australian Mossad Asset Lift the Veil on Israel’s Shadow War

UPI
February 20, 2013

 

The coffin carrying Iran Revolutionary Guard commander Hassan Shateri.

The coffin carrying Iran Revolutionary Guard commander Hassan Shateri.
PHOTO: AP

The assassination of an Iranian general in Syria and the discovery of the mysterious death in an Israeli prison of an Australian linked to Israel’s intelligence have, once again, exposed the murky and complex shadow war being fought in the Middle East.

These two events, separated by more than two years, have also turned up intriguing links with Israel’s drive to prevent its enemies acquiring missiles and other advanced weapons that could bring about the long-feared war between the Jewish state and its Muslim adversaries.

The Iranian, Brig. Gen. Hassan Shateri, aka Hessam Khoshnevis, was reported killed by rebel forces in war-torn Syria last week. That’s the version given by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Shateri was a top commander in the corps’ elite Al-Quds Force, which conducts covert operations outside Iran.

Shateri, 58, headed the Al-Quds operation in Lebanon, and possibly in Syria as well, where Al-Quds teams are known to be aiding the beleaguered regime of President Bashar Assad, Iran’s key Arab ally.

By various accounts, Shateri’s primary mission was to oversee the rearmament of Hezbollah after its 2006 war with Israel. That included building up Hezbollah’s arsenal of missiles — surface-to-surface, anti-aircraft and anti-ship — to unprecedented proportions.

The Jerusalem Post says Hezbollah has 65,000 rockets and missiles, including hundreds capable of reaching anywhere in Israel.

These are Iran’s first line of defense, and possibly offense as well, against Israel.

Shateri’s mission, camouflaged behind his official assignment of overseeing reconstruction of Hezbollah-controlled south Lebanon, badly battered in 2006, made him a marked man.

Shateri operated out of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, long considered a base for Iranian intelligence and al-Quds Force, using his Khoshnevis identity.

The Free Syrian Army, one of the main rebel forces in Syria, claims that Shateri wasn’t killed, as reported, on the Damascus-Beirut highway near the border town of Zabadani, where the Guards and Hezbollah have a base and arms depot.

It said he was actually slain in a Jan. 30 airstrike near Zabadani, supposedly against a convoy moving Iranian-supplied missiles into Lebanon for Hezbollah.

Israel is widely blamed for the air raid, in which several Iranians were reported killed.

The Israelis have said nothing but it’s long been suspected they’ve been conducting airstrikes as far afield as southern Sudan since 2008 to disrupt Iran’s clandestine arms shipments to Hezbollah and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Read the full article— Lifting the veil: Mideast’s covert ops