The photo that made Hojaji famous. He stoically looks at the camera while an "anxious" ISIS executioner is holding him with a knife at hand with black smoke rising from the overtaken camp.
|Born||12 July 1991|
Najafabad, Isfahan Province, Iran
|Died||9 August 2017 (aged 26)|
Al Waleed border crossing, Syria
Najafabad, Isfahan Province, Iran
|Service/||Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps|
|Years of service||Unknown–2017|
|Unit||8th Najaf Ashraf Armored Division|
|Battles/wars||Syrian Civil War|
Mohsen Hojaji (12 July 1991 – 9 August 2017) was an Iranian military officer. He served as an IRGC adviser to the pro-government forces in Syria during the Syrian Civil War. He was captured by ISIS forces near al-Tanf in southeast Syria, and was beheaded two days later. ISIS published a video of his capture, a picture of which went viral among Iranians in social media. The publicized captivity and his following death received widespread reaction among the Iranian people, government, and military.
On 7 August 2017, ISIS led a surprise attack near al-Tanf, Syria near the Syrian-Iraqi border against a pro-government outpost comprising IRGC military advisers, including Hojaji. After two hours of fighting, a suicide ISIS operative infiltrates and leaves a number of people killed. Hojaji himself was wounded at his side and the right arm, according to the commander of his division, and was taken as captive after being surrounded by ISIS members. ISIS published a video of the attack and the capture of Hojaji. Hojaji was beheaded two days later.
A picture of the second video went viral in social media. It shows an ISIS fighter with a knife at hand holding Hojaji, who is dressed in military uniform and gazing at the camera, with black smoke rising from the overtaken camp. Many compared the expressions of the ISIL soldier, who looks "anxious", with that of Hojaji.
Hojaji's captivity and ensuing death received widespread reaction among people and government of Iran, including senior figures and IRGC commanders, such as Hassan Rouhani's vice president, commander of IRGC Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC Ground Forces, Mohammad Pakpour, head of Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, who sent a message to Hajaji's wife and son, and the Iranian Army. Many Iranian celebrities, artists, and sports people also reacted to the incident, such as the footballer Mehdi Taremi, singer and musician Alireza Assar, and Rambod Javan. Reactions from outside Iran include Syrian ambassador to Iran Adnan Hassan Mahmoud and Iraqi cleric and politician Ammar al-Hakim.
In a statement issued on August 31, the public relations department of the IRGC Ground Force said a DNA test confirmed the identity of the body delivered to the Lebanese Hezbollah earlier in the day as Mohsen Hojaji. Hezbollah received the body of Hojaji from Daesh based on a ceasefire deal between the two sides. The transfer of Lebanon's captured soldiers and two martyrs, as well as the body of Hojaji, took place after the buses carrying Daesh militants and their families arrived in the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs.
A funeral procession was held for Hojaji in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on September 27, 2017. Thousands of people took to the streets for his funeral. The funeral began from the Imam Hussein square in downtown Tehran. Ali Khamenei prayed over Hojaji's casket and spoke to his family, praising their fortitude. Many Iranian artists memorialized his death in videos and paintings.
Following the funeral procession, Hojaji was laid to rest on September 28, 2017. He was buried in his hometown of Najaf Abad in Isfahan Province in central Iran.
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