A top Iranian commander with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who once made a disturbing admission of having used Houthi rebels to target Saudi oil tankers, has reportedly died of the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID 19).
Iranian news sources citing IRGC officials confirmed on Friday that Nasser Shabani, a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), died after contracting COVID 19 virus.
With the death of Nasser Shabani, the total number of senior IRGC leaders who have died of coronavirus in Iran has reached five. Over a dozen senior Iranian politicians have died of the COVID 19.
As of Friday, 514 in Iran have died from the virus and there are 11,364 confirmed cases.
Is Iran still hiding the number of coronavirus deaths?
There have been much speculations that Iran may have been hiding the number of coronavirus deaths. As per a set of satellite images released by Maxar technologies, the Iranian regime has dug up a large number of graves to bury the people who have passed away after contracting the Covid-19.
The mass graves could be an indication that Iran has not revealed the actual number of deaths in the country.
How Nasser kicked up a storm?
Nasser Shabani made headlines back in 2018 when in a rather unusual admission, he explicitly explained how the Houthi militia on Iran's orders attacked two Saudi tankers in Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
"We told the Yemenis to attack the two Saudi tankers, and they attacked," Shabani was quoted as saying back in August 2018.
His controversial remarks were carried in several Iranian state media outlets and soon made headlines in international media as well.
Iran used Houthis as proxy against Saudi
The attack on the Saudi oil vessels on July 25, 2018, took place at the Bab al-Mandab Strait which connects the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea and is a narrow, strategic navigation lane for oil and international trade.
Initially, Saudi Arabia's response was to temporarily suspended oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
Soon after this, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman in a statement slammed Tehran's "menacing role" in Yemen and its threat to global trade.
"There should be no more doubt about the Iranian regime's menacing role in Yemen and disregard for human suffering and the environment," the diplomat had said then on his Twitter account0000.
"Its belligerent use of proxy warfare threatens global trade and is a continuation of their outlawed and globally condemned behavior since 1979," he said.