The incidents mark the latest in a recent series of mysterious deaths in the Islamic Republic.
By Erin Viner
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) used the word “martyr” to describe both men, which is official terminology for anyone who dies on military missions.
IRGC Aerospace Forces scientist Mohammad Abdous died “during a mission” in northern Iran this morning, according to the state-owned Fars News Agency, at the Semnan Air Defense Base where a space launch center is located. He was said to have been working on Iran’s satellite program and helping to develop ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones). No official explanation was given for his demise.
The report came less than 24 hours after another IRGC Aerospace Forces officer Ali Kamani was reportedly killed in a “car accident in line of duty” on Sunday in the western Iranian city of Khomein, about 200 miles southwest of Tehran. The semi-official news agency Tasnim identified Kameni as a fighter who died “defending the homeland during the mission,” but provided no additional details.
The latest developments come after last week’s reported death of Iranian aerospace scientist Ayoob Entezari, who was either assassinated or died of a foodborne illness who died shortly after dining with an unnamed man, according to the Iran International anti-regime news site. Entezari, who had a Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering, was also described as a “martyr” by the governor-general’s office of Yazd, said the London-based agency.
The IRGC aerospace force is charged with expanding missile development and the space program in Iran, which has achieved significant advancements in producing long-range ballistic missiles capable of threatening nations in the region – including Israel.
In yet other unconfirmed reports, an Iranian scientist working at the Natanz nuclear facility identified as Kamran Mollapour has also been said to have died.
In addition, Iran’s IRNA news agency cited an unknown official earlier this month, who said that IRGC Quds Force Colonel Ali Esmailzadeh died during an “incident in his residence” in the city of Karaj about 35 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital. While his death was ruled a suicide, Iran International reported that the IRGC may have poisoned Esmailzadeh over suspicions of espionage, including the possible leading of information related to the May 22 assassination of IRGC Col. Hassan Sayad Khodaei. Esmailzadeh and Khodaei were reportedly “close associates” and officers in the IRGC’s secretive 840 Unit that carries out terror operations against Israeli targets abroad.
Khodaei was shot dead in his car by two assailants on a motorcycle in Tehran, which has been blamed on Israel. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi vowed to avenge Khodaei’s assassination, and local media reported that the IRGC had discovered and captured ‘Israeli intelligence agents’ involved in the incident.