TEHRAN – Thousands attended the funeral Tuesday of an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) colonel who was assassinated in Tehran in what authorities have dubbed the work of agents of the United States and its allies.
Colonel Sayyad Khodai was martyred on Sunday by a gunman on the back of a motorcycle as he sat in his car outside his home.
President Ebrahim Raisi vowed on Monday to avenge the terrorist act -- the most high profile inside Iran since that of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020.
Iran had pointed the finger at the occupying regime of Israel as masterminding that attack.
The national broadcaster described Khodai as a member of the Quds Force -- the foreign operations arm of the IRGC.
It had previously reported that the colonel was “known” in Syria, where Iran has backed the country during an 11-year war foreign-backed takfiri terrorism and where it acknowledges deploying “military advisers”.
A large crowd gathered Tuesday morning at the Imam Hussein Square in central Tehran to pay their respects to the colonel, with many raising pictures of other martyrs fallen abroad.
Nearby, a billboard vowing a “harsh vengeance” for Khodai was erected alongside a portrait of General Qasem Soleimani, a revered Quds Force commander who was assassinated in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq in January 2020.
The ceremony began at around 8:30 am (0400 GMT) with the national anthem and Qur’an recitations, followed by religious chanters paying tribute to the slain colonel.
Funeral prayers were led by the capital’s top imam, Ayatollah Kazem Sediqi. Khodai’s coffin was draped in the Iranian flag and posters hailing him as a “martyr”.
A military vehicle carried the coffin to Shohada Square, near where he was assassinated.
Cries of “Death to America” and “death to Israel” reverberated as the procession wound its way across Tehran.
His body was to be laid at the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery south of Tehran, near the grave of Gen. Soleimani’s bodyguard, also martyred during the 2020 U.S. strike, national television said.
The spokesman for the joint chiefs of staff of the Iranian armed forces, General Abolfazl Shekarchi, said on Monday that an investigation had been opened into the circumstances surrounding Khodai’s murder.
The IRGC denounced his assassination as a “terrorist act”, blaming it on “elements of global arrogance” -- in reference to the U.S. and its allies, including the occupying regime of Israel.