Iranian Reported Killed Near Syrian Border

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BEIRUT, Lebanon -- At least one senior Iranian official was reported killed in an attack while driving from Syria to Lebanon on Wednesday, in separate and at times conflicting reports that drew attention to suspicions of Iran's role in the Syrian civil war.

The Iranian Embassy in Lebanon reported that Hossam Khosh Newes, an Iranian development official working in Lebanon, was killed by "armed terrorist groups" -- a phrase used by Syria and its allies as a blanket description of opposition forces -- in an attack on his car on the Lebanese side of the border with Syria after he had come from Damascus.

Separately, an independent Iranian Web site reported that Gen. Hassan Shateri, a senior official of Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed in a similar-sounding attack it attributed to Israel or its allies. Iran's Fars news agency reported that a man of a similar name had been killed Wednesday, though it did not detail his military affiliation. There were varying reports about which side of the border he was killed on, and it was unclear whether he was in the same car or convoy as Mr. Newes.

Iran has solidly backed President Bashar al-Assad of Syria during his nearly two-year crackdown against the opposition. Anti-Assad fighters, as well as the United States government and Israel, have accused Iranian officials and their allies in the Shiite militant group Hezbollah of directly taking part in the civil war.

After vowing to attack and stop any transfer of strategic weapons from the Syrian government to Hezbollah, Israel conducted airstrikes within Syria last month against what American officials claimed was an arms convoy.

The widening accusations that Iran and its allies have been actively fighting alongside the Syrian government, as well as the Israeli airstrike, have heightened fears that Syria's war will spill across borders to become a truly regional conflict. Over the months of the civil war, political and sectarian tensions have risen sharply in nearby countries, including Jordan and Iraq.

Hania Mourtada contributed reporting.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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