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Murder in Damascus

Who killed a top Iranian general?

by
Marc Tracy
June 01, 2010

And now for something somewhat slightly different: A top general in Iran’s increasingly prominent Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was reportedly assassinated on May 16 in Damascus. It is not clear by whom. His death had been known, but Syrian authorities described him as a businessman killed in the course of a robbery. According to Debka News, though, which cites French intelligence and Syrian exiles, the lethal intruders nabbed documents and laptops but no valuables.

Khalil Sultan (no, not that Khalil Sultan) ran the IRGC’s covert operations in Damascus and Beirut, Debka says. And it theorizes that his killers may be:

• A “foreign element” with “an interest in sabotaging Iran’s covert activities” (well, I can think of one);

• Syrian Sunnis, who want to minimize Shiite—read: Iranian—influence;

• Iran itself, which may have been troubled by Sultan’s close friendship with a top general who reportedly defected.

Western sources disclose that his death caused deep shock in top Syrian and Iranian government and security circles. His assassins’ success in reaching this top secret agent in the most closely-guarded neighborhood of the capital, seat of Syrian government institutions and domicile of senior officials, has caused Syrian intelligence and the regime as a whole deep embarrassment.

Me? I just can’t wait to see this summer’s new line of fake mustaches.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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