Tehran: Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi warned on Monday that Iran will retaliate against a Revolutionary Guard colonel shot dead in Tehran.
The attacker on a motorcycle hit Colonel Sayyad Khodai, who was sitting in a car outside his home, with five bullets on Sunday. Iran blamed the Islamic republic’s “factors related to global arrogance” on its main enemy, the United States, and its allies, including Israel. It was the most high-profile killing in Iran since the November 2020 murder of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Raisi said: “I insist on the serious pursuit (of the killers) by security officials, and I have no doubt that the blood of this great martyr will be avenged. “There is no doubt that the hand of global arrogance can be seen in this crime,” he added, echoing the Guards’ assertion, before he travelled to Oman where he was to meet Sultan Haitham bin Tariq. A memorial service for Khodai was scheduled in Tehran at 5:00 pm local time (1230 GMT) on Monday.
The funeral will take place at 8:00 am (0330 GMT) on Tuesday in Imam Hossein Square in central Tehran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp said in a statement. The ideological arm of Iran’s military, the Guards described Khodai as a “defender of the sanctuary”. State television noted that Khodai was “known” in Syria, where Iran has acknowledged deploying “military advisers”. – ‘Criminal act’ – The official news agency IRNA said Khodai was killed by five bullets as he returned home Sunday at around 4:00 pm.
The agency published pictures showing a man slumped over in the driver’s seat of a white car, with blood around the collar of his blue shirt and on his right arm. He was strapped in with his seat belt, and the front window on the passenger side had been shot out. The Fars news agency reported that the state prosecutor had visited the scene of the killing and ordered the “quick identification and arrest of the authors of this criminal act”.
The Guards said they had arrested several “thugs linked to the intelligence agency of the Zionist regime,” as Iran calls its enemy Israel. A statement said the suspects had been involved in a series of crimes, including “robberies, kidnappings, and vandalism”. “The dimensions of this assassination are being investigated,” said the spokesman for the joint chiefs of staff of the Iranian armed forces, General Abolfazl Shakarji.
Khodai’s killing comes as talks between Iran and world powers to revive the 2015 collapsed nuclear deal have stalled since March. One of the main sticking points was Tehran’s request to remove the Guard from the U.S. terrorist list, a request Washington rejected. The 2015 deal eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program to prevent Tehran from developing an atomic bomb, something it has always denied wants to do.
But the nuclear deal was left in limbo after U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 and reimposed tough economic sanctions on Tehran, prompting Iran to start rolling back its own commitments.