Photo Credit: U.S. Mission / Eric Bridiers
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian diplomat and former Ambassador to Syria Hossein Sheikholeslam died Thursday of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, according to the state-run Fars news agency.

Sheikholeslam, who studied at the University of California at Berkeley before the Islamic Revolution, was a former adviser to Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

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He participated in the taking of hostages during the US Embassy crisis in 1979, and interrogated US Embassy staff members during that event.

Iran has barred its government officials from traveling, and the country’s parliament has been suspended indefinitely due to the high number lawmakers infected with the virus.

Some eight percent of the parliament has tested positive with the disease, including the deputy health minister and a vice president for women’s affairs. In addition of Sheikholeslam, a senior adviser to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died in a hospital from the novel coronavirus on Monday.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.