Iran keeps dark loss of its top general in Syria. Syrian Army starts closing in on ISIS-held Palmyra

Abdel Karim Rubash, Deputy Commander of the elite Al Qods Brigades and, is the most senior Iranian general to fall in battle in the more than four years of the Syrian war. His death while in command of the Syrian front is disclosed here by debkafile’s military and intelligence sources. This general had spent the best part of four years in Syria. It was he who came up with the plan to bring Hizballah fighters over from Lebanon to strengthen the Syrian military effort against the insurgency. He was also responsible for organizing the movement of Iranian-supplied arms to Hizballah via Syria. Those convoys were bombed by the Israeli air force several times.
His loss is a severe blow to Iran, Syria and Hizballah, who have been bending over backwards to keep his death dark, moving him discreetly to Tehran for a funeral with full military honors on July 13.
Gen. Rubash died, according to our sources, during the dogged battle the Syrian army and Hizballah have been fighting for ten days to get the rebels out of the important town of Zabadani, which commands the highway between Damascus and Beirut.
We have also learned that he was killed by sniper fire during an ambush of his convoy. In their internal communications, rebel groups claimed that his death was their response to Hizballah’s ultimatum to give up and stop fighting in defense of the town.

Gen. Rubash was the third Iranian general to die on the Syrian battlefield this year. On Jan. 19, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi was killed when a group of Iranian and Hizballah officers inspected the Golan and was hit by an Israeli air strike. Allahdadi was the commander of Iranian forces in South Syria.

In April, Maj. Gen. Hadi Kajbaf, commander of the Iranian-Hizballah force defending Damascus, was killed near the capital.
But the third death was also a major blow to the prestige of the Al Qods chief, supreme commander of Iran’s military intervention forces in the war on ISIS in Iraq and the Yemeni Houthi battles against Saudi Arabia.
Rubash was put in charge of the Syrian war last month, when Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “relieved” Soleimani of this command.

In the meantime, our military sources report a major effort to recover the historic town of Palmyra (Nimrod) from the Islamic State which captured it in May.  A combined force of Syrian troops plus pro-Iranian Shiite militias imported for the campaign is closing in on the town. It has come within 6 km of Palmyra and is forcing the jihadis to fall back. Its success in recovering Palmyra, if accomplished, would represent the biggest Syrian-Iranian triumph in the war on ISIS.

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