Iran reported the death of another colonel of the elite Quds Force of its Revolutionary Guards on Friday, the second in two weeks from the unit which oversees Iran’s military operations abroad.
Quoting an unknown official, the early morning report by the official IRNA news agency said Col. Ali Esmailzadeh died during an “incident in his residence” days ago in city of Karaj, some 35 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of the capital Tehran.
It did not elaborate but denied reports that the colonel was assassinated.
The Iran International opposition website, quoting unnamed sources, alleged that the Revolutionary Guards had killed Esmailzadeh for suspected espionage,
Other news channels close to the Guard said Esmailzadeh fell from his rooftop or balcony.
In May two unidentified gunmen on a motorbike shot Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei five times in a car in front of his residence in Tehran. Iran blamed his slaying on Israel. Iran often blames Israel for such targeted killings, including those on nuclear scientists over the past years.
Iran International claimed that Esmailzadeh was killed over suspicions he provided information to Iran’s enemies that was used in Khodaei’s assassination.
The report said he was close to Khodaei, who was gunned down in Tehran on May 22. Both he and Esmailzadeh were members of the IRGC’s so-called Unit 840, a shadowy division within the IRGC’s expeditionary Quds Force that carries out kidnappings and assassinations outside of Iran.