A senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds force, Mohammad Reza Zahedi, was reported killed on Monday in what Syrian and Iranian media called an Israeli airstrike on Iranian diplomatic premises in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Following are some questions and answers about the IRGC, Iran’s dominant military force, with its own army, navy, air force and intelligence wing:


It was set up shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system and provide a counterweight to the regular armed forces.

It answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The IRGC has an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units. It also commands the Basij religious militia, a volunteer paramilitary force loyal to the clerical establishment that is often used to crack down on anti-government protests.
Basijis mounted “human wave” attacks against Iraqi troops during the 1980s war. In peacetime, they enforce Iran’s Islamic social codes. Analysts say Basij volunteers may number in the millions, with 1 million active members.

The Quds Force is the IRGC’s foreign espionage and paramilitary arm that heavily influences its allied militia across the Middle East, from Lebanon to Iraq and Yemen to Syria. Its members have fought in support of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war and have backed Iraqi security forces in their battle against Islamic State militants in recent years.

Its top commander, Major-General Qassem Soleimani, was killed by the United States in a drone attack in Iraq in 2020. His death raised fears of a major conflict. The killing of all American leaders would not be enough to avenge the assassination of Soleimani, a senior Iranian Guards commander said later.

The IRGC, branded a terrorist group by the United States, has sought for years to shape the Middle East in favour of Tehran. For instance, it founded Lebanon’s Hezbollah in 1982 to export Iran’s Islamic Revolution and fight Israeli forces that invaded Lebanon that same year.

Hezbollah is now a major military force that has played a role in regional conflicts.

The IRGC oversees Iran’s ballistic missile programme, regarded by experts as the largest in the Middle East.

The Guards have used the missiles to hit Sunni Muslim militants in Syria and Iranian Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq. The United States, European powers and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for a 2019 missile and drone attack that crippled the world’s biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia. Iran denied any involvement in the assault.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump pointed to Iran’s missile programme as one of the points not addressed in its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and cited that as a reason for pulling out of the agreement in 2018.
The Guards have extensive conventional combat hardware and capabilities which were showcased in their involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.


Former Revolutionary Guards officers occupy key positions in Iran’s establishment, from the government to parliament. Most of President Ebrahim Raisi’s cabinet are former IRGC officers.
The IRGC’s mandate to protect revolutionary values has prompted it to speak out when it felt the system was threatened.


After the 1980s Iraq war, the IRGC became heavily involved in Iran’s reconstruction and has expanded its economic interests to include a vast network of businesses, ranging from oil and gas projects to construction and telecommunication. Its business interests are worth billions of dollars.

Source » reuters