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Iran vows retaliation over killing of IRGC colonel

May 23, 2022

Tehran has suggested "global arrogance" could have been behind the killing of Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, described as a "great martyr." Khodaei is believed to have been involved in operations in Syria and Iraq.

Family members of Iranian colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei weep over his body in his car after he was shot in Tehran
Khodaei's funeral is expected later on MondayImage: West Asia News Agency via REUTERS

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Monday promised a strong response after a senior member of Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was gunned down on the previous day. 

"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," Raisi said.

What do we know so far?

IRGC Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei was killed by unidentified gunmen outside of his home in Tehran on Sunday. Iranian state television reported that security forces are pursuing the assailants behind the killing.

Khodaei was a member of the Quds Force, a shadowy arm of the IRGC specialized in covert military operations outside of Iran. 

Iran has pinned the killing on "global arrogance," a term typically used to refer to the US and its allies such as Israel. 

Both the US and Israel have accused the Quds Force of training groups such as Hezbollah in Syria and Shia militias in Iraq.

Inside Israel's cyber security force

Israel has conducted extensive air operations targeting Iran-linked targets in Syria. Iran responded in March by launching a barrage of missiles into northern Iraq, with the region being home to a US consulate.

The IRGC has referred to Khodaei has a "defender of the sanctuary," which refers to members of the armed forces who work on behalf of the Islamic Republic in Syria or Iraq. 

Khodaei's killing latest in high-profile assassinations in Iran

Khodaei's death is the latest high-profile attack on an Iranian official since the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020. Fakhrizadeh was one of the key architects of Iran's nuclear program, which is strongly opposed by Israel.

Another major assassination occurred in January 2020, when Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani was killed by a US drone near Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

The move, which was ordered by former US President Donald Trump's administration, caused tensions to skyrocket between Washington and Tehran, with the IRGC firing missiles at an American airbase in western Iraq in retaliation.

wd/dj (AP, AFP)