An Iranian pilot was killed defending Shi’ite Muslim holy sites in neighboring Iraq, Iran’s state news agency said, in the first official report of an Iranian death related to an upsurge in violence there since June.

Shoja’at Alamdari Mourjani, who was buried in the Iranian city of Shiraz on Friday, was killed while fighting “takfiri terrorists” in Samarra, north of Baghdad, it said, using a term for Sunni Muslim militant fighters.

Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government is fighting an insurgency by Sunni rebels led by an al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State, who consider Shi’ites heretics. […]