Khairallah Samadi, an adviser to Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force [IRGC-QF], has been killed in a mortar attack in Abu Kamal in eastern Syria, according to an Al Arabiya report. Samadi was a retired member of the IRGC’s 36 Ansar al-Mahdi Brigade in the northern Zanjan Province.
The announcement of Samadi’s death coincided with Soleimani’s visit to Abu Kamal, the last stronghold of ISIS [the Islamic State] in Syria. The Iranian- backed Al-Najaba group is fighting ISIS forces in the region. The U.S. recently declared Al-Najaba a terrorist group. It is believed that many ISIS fighters and their families reside in Abu Kamal. Fighting has been fierce in and around the city, with both sides suffering heavy casualties.
Earlier this month, Iranian state-run TV reported that the city of Abu Kamal had been completely liberated. However, according to the semi-official Fars news agency, 85 percent of the city is controlled by the Syrian army loyal to Bashar al-Assad. There are unconfirmed reports that some ISIS fighters escaped from the city through a network of underground tunnels, and surrendered to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the Euphrates.
ISIS forces in the city have been pounded by artillery shells. Russian Tupolev bombers have also been attacking ISIS positions, Moscow has said. Recent aerial photographs show that most of the city has been reduced to rubble.
Both IRGC and Hezbollah forces have suffered heavy casualties in the battle for Abu Kamal. Sayah Taheri, Mehdi Movahednia and Habib Badavi (known as the multimillionaire martyr) were prominent IRGC fighters who recently lost their lives in battle. Mohsen Hojaji, an IRGC adviser captured and killed by ISIS, and Mohsen Tajbakhsh, a Basij member of the Defenders of the Shrine, were among those previously killed in Syria.