IRGC Navy Colonel Eliminated in Northwest Syria – March 1, 2024

Zerai in the Sayda Zainab shrine in Damascus, Syria

On March 1st an airstrike was carried out on a building in the Taraya rural area, east of the town of Baniyas in Northwest Syria.

According to local reports, two Hezbollah operatives were killed in the attack, as well as an Iranian officer with the rank of Colonel in the Islamic Revolutionary Gourds Corps named Reza Zerai.
Zerai’s death was also confirmed by Iranian officials shortly after the attack.    

Above: Reza Zerai

Various reports show that Zerai was a high-ranking officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy and that he officially assigned to the 1st naval district. He was 40 years old and served in the IRGC for two decades.
The fact that Abbas Gholamshahi, the commander of the 1st naval district, personally informed Zerai’s family about his death (seen in uniform in the attached video) indicates Zerai’s status. With this came the presence of senior high-ranking IRGC officers at his coffin’s arrival to Iran and the relatively vast media coverage it received.

The IRGC Navy’s 1st naval district controls the Hormuz strait and is charge of securing navigation in the strait and the Bandar Abbas port, which is one of Iran’s main export ports. Abbas Gholamshahi is the commander of this naval district since 2016.

Above: Abbas Gholamshahi

Official media outlets in Iran described Zerai as a “military advisor”, but as we have mentioned, it seems that he held a much higher position. We estimate Zerai was involved in implementing various systems and supporting Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias operating in Syria and Lebanon.

Some possible activities Zerai was involved in could have included introducing and operating cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles, assimilation and operation of radar and electronic warfare systems for detection and guidance, as well as other systems related to Hezbollah’s naval capabilities.

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Picture of Boaz Shapira

Boaz Shapira

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