Show of respect as Iranian IRGC commander's body arrives in Iraq

Brig Gen Razi Mousavi taken to Shiite shrines in Najaf and Karbala before burial in Iran

Prayers over the coffin of senior IRGC adviser Brig Gen Razi Mousavi  in Iraq before his body is returned to Iran. Reuters
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The body of a senior military adviser in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps arrived in Iraq to a show of respect on Wednesday, two days after he was killed in a reported Israeli air strike in Syria.

The death of Brig Gen Razi Mousavi in Damascus increased concerns that the war in Gaza could become a regional conflict involving Iran, its overseas proxies and its adversaries.

When announcing his death, the IRGC promised retribution, saying “the usurping and barbaric Zionist regime will pay for this crime, without a doubt”.

An aircraft carrying his body arrived in the city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, where a funeral procession was held. His body was then taken to the nearby city of Karbala before being taken to Iran for burial.

Najaf is home to the Shiite shrine of Imam Ali, the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law, whose two sons, Imam Hussein and Abbas, are buried in Karbala.

Brig Gen Mousavi's coffin was carried to the Najaf shrine by members of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, a state-linked paramilitary organisation that is dominated by influential Iran-backed Shiite militias.

They raised images of him along with PMF flags, as civilian mourners beat their chests in grief.

No senior militia leaders or government officials were seen at the ceremony.

In Karbala, PMF fighters and pilgrims carried the coffin inside the shrines. Some held his picture with flags of PMF and militias.

Middle East political analysts and observers told The National on Tuesday that the killing of the IRGC commander could be a provocation by Israel to draw its existential enemy, Iran, into a regional war.

An Iraqi Shiite MP linked to the Iran-backed militias did not rule out that Iran's retaliation could take place in Iraq, as it did in March last year when it fired ballistic missiles at Erbil, the capital of the three-province Kurdistan region.

Funeral procession held in Iraq for IRGC commander killed in Syria

Funeral procession held in Iraq for IRGC commander killed in Syria

Iran said the missiles were fired on an Israeli secret service site in retaliation for a string of Israeli attacks in Syria and Iran.

“We will be surprised if Iran does not retaliate. It will be a matter of time to decide where and when,” the MP told The National.

“Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine are all one front for Iran and for us.”

Brig Gen Mousavi, known as Sayyed Razi, was one of the longest-serving and most high-profile of the IRGC’s military advisers in Syria.

For years, he was responsible for support and logistics for the IRGC's Quds Force in the country.

He also helped oversee the shipment of missiles and other arms to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia that also operates in Syria.

Several attempts had been made on his life.

The IRGC media arm said on Monday that he was “responsible for supporting the resistance front in Syria”.

He was a close associate of the late IRGC leader Maj Gen Qassem Suleimani, who was assassinated by the US in Iraq in January 2020.

Iranian media published a photograph of the two together.

Updated: December 27, 2023, 4:38 PM