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Iran replaces IRGC's intelligence chief

Taeb's apparent dismissal comes after Israeli media outlets identified him as masterminding plots against Israeli citizens in Turkey.
Husseyn Tayeb

Iran has replaced the head of the intelligence unit for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hossein Taeb, the IRGC confirmed on Thursday. 

“Guard Corps chief Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami appointed Gen. Mohammad Kazemi as the new head of the IRGC Intelligence Organization,” spokesman for the IRGC Ramezan Sharif said in a statement. 

Kazemi had previously run the IRGC’s Intelligence Protection Organization. Iran's state broadcaster IRIB reported Thursday that Taeb will now serve as an adviser to IRGC Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami. 

Taeb’s apparent dismissal after 12 years as intelligence chief comes days after Israeli media linked him to alleged Iranian plots to kidnap or kill Israeli tourists living in Turkey. Tehran had vowed retaliation for a string of suspicious deaths attributed to Israel, including the apparent assassinations of two Iranian aerospace officers. Iran also blamed Israel for the killing of IRGC Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, who was shot dead outside his home in May.

Turkish outlet Hurriyet Daily News reported on Thursday that Turkish intelligence arrested eight people last week in Istanbul who were part of an Iranian cell planning attacks against Israeli diplomats and tourists in the city. The suspects arrested June 17 included “local collaborators,” the outlet reported.

This month, Israel urged its citizens to leave Turkey as soon as possible, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid saying Israelis in Turkey faced "a real and immediate danger" from Iranian operatives. 

Israel’s Counter Terrorism Bureau upgraded its travel warning to level 4 — its highest — for Israelis planning trips to Turkey. A top-level Israeli intelligence official told Al-Monitor that Iran had deployed several assassination squads targeting Israelis in Turkey.

This story is breaking and will be updated.