It is the first time Tehran has announced the death of a senior commander during the operations launched in October to drive the Islamic State militants out of Mosul, Reuters reported.

“Commander Shaaban Nassiri was martyred in operations to free the area west of Mosul,” the Tasnim news agency quoted the Revolutionary Guards as saying.

The IRGC is the main backer of the Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitary force known as Popular Mobilisation, fighting Islamic State west of Mosul.

Nassiri was killed near Baaj, one of the last cities which remain under Islamic State control, near the Syrian border, according to Mashregh, an Iranian news website.

Nassiri fought in the Iran-Iran war of 1980-1988 and has been involved in the six-year war in Syria, backing President Bashar al-Assad, according to Mashregh.

A general from the IRGC assumed the post of Iran’s ambassador to Iraq in April, in a sign of the key role the military force is playing in its neighbouring country.