Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Monday accused “Zionists” of shooting dead a colonel in Tehran earlier this month, just days after Israel told the United States it was behind the killings.
Guard Colonel Saad Khodai, 50, was shot dead by assailants on a motorcycle outside his home east of the Iranian capital on May 22. He was shot five times, state media reported.
It was the most high-profile assassination inside Iran since the assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020 – an act Tehran has blamed on its arch-enemy Israel.
According to the Sepah News website of the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, Maj. Gen. Hussein Salami, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, said during a visit to his family, “Khodai was killed.
The general, however, did not use the term “Zionist rule”, which is regularly used by the Islamic Republic as a direct reference to Israel.
Salami added, “Enemies chased him (Colonel) from the heart of the White House and Tel Aviv for months and years, door to door and alley to alley.”
The New York Times reported last week that Israel had told the United States that the Jewish state was behind the carnage. The US daily quoted an anonymous “briefing intelligence officer as having been contacted”.
Iran has previously blamed “global arrogance” for Khodaiya’s assassination, a term that has long been used by allies, including the United States and Israel.
According to the New York Times, Israeli officials have claimed that Khodai was “the deputy commander of a secret unit in the Quds Force”, involved in “conspiracy plots against foreigners, including Israelis.” The Quds Force is an elite unit of guards in charge of external operations.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Israeli officials had told US officials that the killing was a warning to Iran to close down the group.
Atomic discussion of stagnation
Iranian state television said Khodai was a member of the Quds Force and was “known” in Syria, where Iran has admitted to deploying “military advisers.”
Guards described Khodai as “the guardian of the sanctuary”, a term used for those who work for Tehran in Syria or Iraq.
Iran has maintained significant political influence in both countries and has supported the government of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war.
On Tuesday, thousands of Iranians attended a funeral procession before burying him in the Martyrs’ section of Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery in southern Tehran.
The colonel’s assassination comes as talks between Iran and world powers to restore a 2015 nuclear deal have stalled, after being postponed in March.
Tehran’s demand – that Washington reject – that the guards be removed from the US blacklist of terrorism – is one of the main issues.
The deal to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb has eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for sanctions on its nuclear program – something they do not always want to do.
But after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 and re-imposed economic sanctions on Tehran, the deal was left to life support, prompting Iran to start backtracking on its own promises.
Israel has been opposed to the 2015 nuclear deal.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)