TEHRAN, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard official Hussein Hamedani died in Syria, Iranian officials announced, underscoring the country's involvement in bolstering the Assad regime.
Gen. Hamedani was killed Thursday near Aleppo, Syria.
The Iranian news agency Tasnim, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, a branch of the Iranian military whose mission involves protection of the country's Islamic system, said Hamedani was working in an advisory capacity in Syria. The report said he was killed by "takfiri terrorists," or Sunni Muslims who regard other Muslims as apostates.
Hamedani was a veteran of the 1980s war between Iran and Iraq.
The number of deaths of Iranian soldiers in Syria has increased in recent weeks, as well as their elaborate and conspicuous funerals in Iran. Iran provides financial and military support to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
At least two other high-ranking Revolutionary Guard officers have died in Syria -- Gen. Hassan Shateri was killed in February 2013 while travelling from Syria to Lebanon, and Mohammad-Ali Allahadi was killed in January.
Russian military aircraft, including those used to launch airstrikes in Syria, have been welcomed in Iran. Hamedani was reportedly in Syria to aid Bashar's military forces. Iran has admitted it has advisors in Syria but not combat troops.
Shahin Gobadi of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, an exiled opposition group, issued a statement criticizing Iran's involvement in Syria's civil war.
"This development once again demonstrates the significance for the clerical regime of maintaining Assad in power and the extent of the direct involvement of the religious dictatorship ruling Iran in suppressing and murdering the Syrian people," he said. "Without Tehran's all-out involvement, Assad would have been overthrown long ago. It is becoming more evident that after four years of crimes and massacres in Syria, the clerical regime's strategy there has run aground and is facing serious defeat."