Hassan Sayyad Khodayari was a member of the Quds Force, IRGC’s foreign arm, who served in Syria in the past years.
Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) says one of its members has been assassinated in the capital Tehran by gunmen riding on two motorcycles, according to the state news agency IRNA.
Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem said that the IRGC issued a statement on Sunday saying Hassan Sayyad Khodayari was assassinated by the enemy of the revolution. He said that Khodayari was a member of the Quds Force (which is responsible for the IRGC’s foreign operations) who served in Syria in the past years.
The Al Jazeera correspondent said in a few hours we will start to know about Khodayari and what he was doing in Syria, and the message behind this assassination.
“Is it, for example, an Israeli assassination? This is what the Iranians are referring to when they are saying ‘the enemies of the revolution are behind this assassination,’” Hashem said.
The state agency described him as a “defender of the sanctuary” – a term used to describe anyone who works on behalf of the Islamic republic in Syria or Iraq.
The IRGC, the ideological arm of Iran’s military, identified Khodayari as a colonel.
According to IRNA, Khodayari was killed by five bullets as he returned home at about 4:00pm (11:30 GMT).
The agency published pictures showing a man slumped over in the driver’s seat of a car, with blood around the collar of his blue shirt and on his upper right arm.
In a statement posted on their website, the Guard Corps also denounced a “terrorist act” they claimed was carried out by “elements linked to global arrogance”.
The Guard Corps said they launched an investigation to identify the “aggressor or aggressors”.
In a separate development, Iran’s state TV earlier announced that members of an Israeli intelligence network had been found and arrested by the IRGC.
“Under the guidance of the Zionist regime’s intelligence service, the network attempted to steal and destroy personal and public property, kidnapping and obtaining fabricated confessions through a network of thugs,” the IRGC public relations service said in a statement.
Iran has been a key military backer of the Syrian regime and has sent thousands of fighters known as the “defenders of the shrines” to Syria and Iraq over the years.
There have been assassinations of high profile Iranians in recent years.
In November 2020 a high-ranking Iranian nuclear physicist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated in an ambush near Iran’s capital, Tehran.
The Jewish Chronicle reported that Fakhrizadeh was killed by a one-tonne gun smuggled into Iran in pieces by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
Citing intelligence sources, the British weekly said a team of more than 20 agents, including Israeli and Iranian nationals, carried out the ambush on Fakhrizadeh after eight months of surveillance.
In January 2020, General Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC’s) Quds Force, and architect of its regional security apparatus, was killed following a US air raid at Baghdad’s international airport.
The White House and the Pentagon confirmed the killing of Soleimani in Iraq, saying the attack was carried out at the direction of US President Donald Trump and was aimed at deterring future attacks allegedly being planned by Iran.