The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Monday accused “Zionists” of assassinating a colonel in Tehran earlier this month, the Guards’ official website reported.
Colonel Sayyad Khodai, 50, was fatally shot on May 22 outside his home in the east of the Iranian capital by assailants on motorcycles. He was hit with five bullets, according to official media.
The colonel was killed “by the most vicious people, the Zionists, and God willing, we will avenge his death,” Major General Hossein Salami said, according to an official statement released by the Guards’ Sepah News website.
The general did not, however, use the term “Zionist regime”, routinely used by the Islamic republic as a direct reference to its arch enemy Israel.
Iran had earlier blamed the killing on “elements linked to the global arrogance”, its term for the United States and Washington’s allies including Israel.
“The enemy pursued him (the colonel) from the heart of the White House and Tel Aviv for months and years, door to door and alley to alley to martyr him,” Salami added.
The New York Times reported last week that Israel has told the United States that the Jewish state was behind the killing of Khodai. The US daily cited an anonymous “intelligence official briefed on the communications”.
It was the most high profile killing inside Iran since the November 2020 murder of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
State television had described Khodai as a member of the Quds Force, the elite unit of the Guards in charge of external operations.
The ideological arm of Iran’s military, the Guards described Khodai as a “defender of the sanctuary”, a term used for those who work on behalf of Tehran in Syria or Iraq.
On Tuesday, thousands of Iranians attended Khodai’s funeral, before he was buried in the martyrs’ section of Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in southern Tehran.