Officers in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as websites affiliated with it, have recently published data regarding the number of IRGC and Basij officers who were killed in the past two weeks while fighting in Syria. The death toll includes three generals, battalion commanders, captains and lieutenants, as well as one pilot. These fighters were apparently taking part in "Operation Muharram", a large-scale military operation in Syria named after the current month of Muharram, which in the Shi'a is a month of mourning (on its tenth day, the Ashura, Shi'ites commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein bin Ali in the Battle of Karbala).
In recent years, Iranian regime spokesmen have routinely denied direct involvement in the fighting in Syria, claiming that Iranian aid to the Assad regime was limited to "advising" Assad's forces on the ground. IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami maintained this line in an interview with Iranian Channel 2 on October 26, 2015, in which he detailed the various levels of Iranian aid to the Assad regime. He admitted that "Iranian presence" in Syria "has increased both quantitatively and qualitatively," and added that "our forces visit the arena [of combat] to provide better assistance, which is why it seems that compared to the past, we have more martyrs. But our total number of martyrs is not high."
This document reviews reports by sources affiliated with the IRGC regarding the death of nearly 30 IRGC officers in the fighting in Syria in the past few weeks, as well as statements by IRGC Deputy Commander Salami regarding Iran's military presence in the country.
Some 30 IRGC Officers Recently Killed In Syria
On October 9, 2015, Tehran announced that General Hossein Hamadani, a member of Iran's top military command echelon in Syria, was killed by ISIS in Aleppo while "carrying out an advisory mission." Iran's top leadership, chiefly Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, IRGC Commander Ali Jafari, and IRGC Qods Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, personally mourned Hamadani, stating that he was a founding member of the Syrian Basij forces.
On October 25, the Mashregh website (mashreghnews.ir) reported that another general, Sajad Tahernia, and pilot Rouhallah Emadi, were killed on the same day during an "advisory mission" in southern Aleppo.
General Tahernia (left) and the pilot Emadi (right)
In fact, in the past week Mashregh has reported on a daily basis about Iranians killed in Operation Muharram in Syria. On October 24, it reported that "during a large-scale operation that began some two weeks ago, over 15 Iranian soldiers were killed in face-to-face combat with the 'fans of American Islam' [meaning ISIS]." On October 26, it stated that the number of fighters killed "over the past 12 days" in "renewed fighting against Saudi mercenaries and fans of American Islam has climbed to 20," and published the names and photos of 20 troops killed."
Photos of 20 troops killed in recent fighting
Two days later, on October 28, Mashregh reported that the Iranian death toll during the anti-ISIS Operation Muharram that has been waging in recent days has risen to 26. On October 29, the website updated the death toll to 27, killed "in less than 15 days," after the death of another officer, named Mohamad Reza Tourjizadeh, commander of the Ya Zahra Battalion, who died "in an operation in Syria." On October 30, Mashregh stated that the death toll stood at 29, and gave one more name: Hojat Asghari Sharibani.
The Names Of The IRGC, Basij Officers And Soldiers Killed In Syria As Published On Mashregh
The IRGC and Basij soldiers and officers whose death in Syria was reported by Mashregh recently are the following:
Farshad Hosounizadeh - IRGC general and former commander of the Liwa Al-Sabirin militia
Mostafa Sadrzadeh - commander of the Omar Battalion of the Al-Fatmiyoon Brigade
Hamid Mojtaba Mokhtarband - IRGC commander
Mehdi Ali Doust - IRGC officer commanding the 17th Battalion of the Ali ibn Abu Taleb Brigade
Mohamad Estehkami Jahromi
Majid Sanaee - Basij officer with the 161st Battalion of the Al-Imam Brigade
Komeil Ghorbani - Captain with the Najaf Ashraf 8th Armored Division
Hasan Ahmadi - Lieutenant with the Najaf Ashraf 8th Armored Division
Mojtaba Karami - Basij officer with the 154 Battalion of the Ali Al-Akbar Brigade
Amin Karimi - Officer for the Al-Ansar platoon of the IRGC
Reza Damroudi - IRGC engineer
Abdollah Baqeri - bodyguard of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Seyed Milad Mostafavi
Mohamad Reza Askarifard
Moslem Nasser - Lieutenant with the Al-Mahdi Brigade
Mohamad Reza Tourjizadeh - Commander of the Ya Zahra Brigade
Mohamad Reza Dayi Taqi - Commander of the Imam Mahdi squad of the Basij forces
Hojat Asghari Sharibani
The names and photos of 26 IRGC officers killed in Syria, also taken from the Mashregh website, were also tweeted by a personal account on October 29, 2015.
The 26 photos posted on a private Twitter account
IRGC Deputy Commander Salami: "Our Presence Increased Both Quantitatively And Qualitatively... But Our Total Number Of Martyrs Is Not High"
As stated, IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami conducted an interview with Iranian Channel 2 on October 26, 2015, in which he discussed Iran's involvement in Syria. Salami said: "Our military role in Syria can be presented on four levels: The first is strategic - on this level we support the Syrian people, regime and army and convey our experience... via advisory elements. Another level is the operational level, which includes advising Syrian army commanders. Yet another level is the tactical level, in which our commanders advise the the Syrian army commanders in charge of operations... And the fourth level is the technical level, which refers to supplying equipment and training."
In response to the question of why the number of Iranian martyrs has increased recently, Salami replied: "Several months ago, the Syrian regime began to rebuild its army and asked us for advisory aid for a large-scale operation... Due to this, our presence increased both quantitatively and qualitatively... Our forces visit the arena [of combat] to provide better assistance, which is why it seems that compared to the past, we have more martyrs. But our total number of martyrs is not high."
 The reformist website Amadnews.com reported on October 9, 2015 that Hamadani was killed "because his vehicle rolled over in Aleppo, and he was not killed by ISIS as stated by the official IRGC website."
 In his eulogy, IRGC Commander Ali Jafari said: "Without General Hamadani, Damascus would have fallen. Syria owes its [survival] to General Hamadani. Sepanews.com, October 10, 2015. During a television program in memory of Hamadani on October 17, Jafari said: "Hamadani volunteered due to the events in Syria and was there for four years... Today, 100,000 Syrians have mobilized to combat the lack of security, and Hamadani played a key role in this matter. Farsnews.com, October 17, 2015.
 Twitter.com/negmosi, October 29, 2015.
 Fars (Iran), October 26, 2015.