Iran buries slain Revolutionary Guard colonel, vows revenge

Revolutionary Guards Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodai was buried on Tuesday after he was gunned down in broad daylight on Sunday, with Iran blaming Israel for the attack.

 Family members of Colonel Sayad Khodai, a member of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, weep over his body in his car after he was reportedly shot by two assailants in Tehran, Iran, May 22, 2022. (photo credit: IRGC/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)
Family members of Colonel Sayad Khodai, a member of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, weep over his body in his car after he was reportedly shot by two assailants in Tehran, Iran, May 22, 2022.
(photo credit: IRGC/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)

Iran held a funeral procession on Tuesday in the center of the capital Tehran for Revolutionary Guard Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodayari, who was shot dead by two people on a motorcycle, and his commander vowed to avenge the attack.

State television showed crowds surrounding a truck carrying Khodai's casket, wrapped in Iran's flag and strewn with flowers. Mourners held portraits of Khodai, who was gunned down in broad daylight in front of his home in central Tehran on Sunday.

"Iran's response to any threat or action will be harsh. But we will determine when and how it will be and in what circumstances. We will definitely take revenge on our enemies," Revolutionary Guards commander Hossein Salami told reporters.

"Iran's response to any threat or action will be harsh. But we will determine when and how it will be and in what circumstances."

Revolutionary Guards commander Hossein Salami

Iran has blamed such attacks on Israel. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said US support was making Israel more brazen.

"There is no doubt that the overt and covert support of ...the United States plays an important role in increasing the audacity of the occupying regime (Israel)," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told state media.

 Mourners attend the funeral ceremony of Colonel Sayad Khodai, a member of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, in Tehran, Iran, May 24, 2022. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS) Mourners attend the funeral ceremony of Colonel Sayad Khodai, a member of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, in Tehran, Iran, May 24, 2022. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Separately, state television said the Guards had arrested members of a network of "thugs" recruited by Israeli intelligence to carry out sabotage and attacks in Iran.

Israel remains silent

The Israeli Prime Minister's office, which oversees the Mossad, has declined to comment on the events in Tehran. 

Israeli media said Khodai headed a unit of the Quds Force - the Revolutionary Guards' overseas arm - planning attacks on Israelis abroad.

Khodai was a "defender of the shrines," Iranian state media said on Sunday, referring to military personnel or advisers who Iran says fight on its behalf to protect Shi'ite sites in Iraq or Syria against groups such as Islamic State.

The forces have played a key role in backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Tehran's ally.

The killing comes at a time of uncertainty over the revival of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after months of stalled talks.

At least six Iranian scientists and academics have been killed or attacked since 2010, several of them by assailants riding motorcycles, in attacks believed to have targeted Iran’s nuclear program, which the West says is aimed at producing a bomb.

Iran denies this, saying the program has peaceful purposes, and has denounced the killings as acts of terrorism carried out by Western intelligence agencies and Mossad. Israel has declined comment on such accusations.