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Iran: Revolutionary Guards Commander assassinated in Ahwaz

A Revolutionary Guards commander died after an ambush on 20 September by Ahwazi militants, according to Iran's Fardanews this week and confirmed by Ahwazi groups.

Ambush near Hamidiyah

Mehdi Bayat was killed near the Revolutionary Guards base in Hamidiyah, 25km from Ahwaz City, after returning from military training. According to Fardanews, he and his colleagues had escaped one ambush only to fall into a second ambush. He died of his injuries the following day. There are no reports of injuries or deaths among his colleagues. According to some Ahwazi group, the ambush took place in a village called Al-Shuish, near Hamydia, and was assassination was retribution for recent executions.

The actual rank Bayat held has not been announced, but Ahwazi and official Iranian sources indicate he was a commanding officer responsible for training members of the Bassij militia in Khaffajiyah. The town of Khaffajiyah has witnessed a number of disturbances by Ahwazi Arab groups which have been brutally put down by the Revolutionary Guards' Ashura Brigades, which were formed nearly 15 years ago to crush dissent in Iran.

Responsibility

A number of assassinations and attempted assassinations have been carried out in Ahwaz in recent months with members of the Revolutionary Guards, the police and clerics targetted. In June, militants assassinated Hisham Saimeri, the imam of Zahraa mosque in the Hay al-Thawra district of Ahwaz City, which has experienced the highest levels of Arab unrest. At the time, the provincial governor blamed "saboteurs, evildoers and Wahhabis." (click here for further details)

At the time, the Canada-based Hizb al-Nahda al-Ahwaziya (Ahwazi Renaissance Party (ARP)) welcomed the assassination and warned Hijazi of "the consequences of continuing the criminal policies committed against Ahwazis." The ARP has also welcomed the assassination of Bayat, stating that "Ahwazis have proved through this heroic act to the Persian invader authorities that their repressive practices and executions would not stop their struggle to regain their usurped rights." (click here for their report) It is unclear what, if any, links the ARP has with the assassins. It is a separate group from the Harkat al-Nedhal Alarabi (Arabic Struggle Movement for Liberation of Al-Ahwaz (ASMLA)) which claimed responsibility for a number of bomb attacks in Ahwaz City.

Iranian officials claim that a group called Jebheyia Khalghi Al-Ahwazyeh (Ahwazi Nation or People Front) was responsible. It is unclear which Ahwazi group they are referring to and no group has claimed responsibility for the killing.