Monday, January 09, 2006

Ahmad Kazemi, Top Iranian Commander Killed In Plane Crash

Ahmad Kazemi, the commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Ground Forces and at least ten other senior officers were killed when their plane, a Falcon, crashed near Oroumieh, 900 km north-west of the capital, Tehran, in bad weather conditions.

Reports are that both of the plane's engines failed.

Iran's civil aviation is apparently in poor shape due to US sanctions. Last month, a military transport plane crashed into an apartment building in Tehran, killing 128 people. In 2003, another plane crashed, killing 276 officers and soldiers.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, also known as Sepah or Pasdaran was formed in the revolution of 1979, loyal to the Grand Ayatollah. The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was a member of the Guard himself. It is 125,000 strong and is considered the designated guardians of the revolution. The href="" was intended to protect the Revolution and to assist the ruling clerics in the day-to-day enforcement of the new government's Islamic codes and morality. It maintains a formidable presence in naval, ground, and air operations, although since the 1990s, apparently newer aircraft have gone to the regular Iranian Air Force.

Iran resumed its nuclear projects today as well, following the collapse of talks with Russia, breaking UN seals and announcing the resumption of research activities. Ahmad Kazemi was a friend and ally of the President. He said, in memoriam, the armed forces “must become symbols of resilience and honour by awaiting the return of the Mahdi [the Shiite messiah] and obeying the Supreme Leader”.

Also of note, and related: Iran Calls for Holocaust Conference

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