Raisi: Revenge on ‘Criminals’ Behind Death of IRGC Colonel ‘Inevitable’

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA [West Asia News Agency]/Handout via REUTERS)

The targeted killing of a senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, will “inevitably” be avenged, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Monday, the first time he addressed Khodaei’s killing.

“The hand of the global arrogance is behind the act,” Raisi said, quoted in the Hezbollah-affiliated news outlet Al Mayadeen.

“Those who have lost the battle for the Temple Mount are showing their desperation by carrying out the assassination,” Raisi said, implying that Israel was behind the action.

On Sunday, Iranian officials quoted Sunday by Al Jazeera said the killing had crossed a “red line.”

Khodaei was killed outside his Tehran home on Sunday by gunmen on a motorbike, Iranian state media reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

He was believed to have been involved in Iranian plots to kidnap Israeli officials that was recently unearthed by Israeli security services. He also served as the right-hand man of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the former Quds Force chief whom the Trump administration killed in a missile strike in 2020.

According to the Iranian source quoted by Al-Jazeera, Khodaei’s killing will “change several equations,” and “those responsible will pay dearly.”

Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a former head of the research division of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, said Sunday evening that the elimination of Khodaei was a “blow” to the Iranian regime.

“The killing, which was carried out in broad daylight, of a senior commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force in Syria, is another hit to the prestige of the radical Islamist regime and exposes its penetrability and its lack of ability to protect its people,” Kuperwasser said.

“All this is happening as local unrest over the economic distress and the rising cost of staple goods [in Iran] is growing, which also illustrates the regime’s ineffectuality and how detached it is from a growing part of the Iranian public, who are so desperate they are willing to risk taking part in anti-government protests. Hezbollah’s failure in the Lebanon election is also contributing to the discomfort in Iran’s upper echelons,” Kuperwasser explained.

According to Kuperwasser, Khodaei was not known to have been involved in Iran’s nuclear program, and while he had been serving in Syria until recently, the extent of his involvement in smuggling Iranian arms to Syria was unclear.

“Therefore, it’s possible this is why Iran avoided making immediate accusations that Israel was responsible for the killing, but given the frustration in the regime it’s not impossible that this accusation will come,” he added.

Kuperwasser noted that “at this stage, it appears that Israel is making progress in stopping Iran’s attempts to entrench itself in Syria and equip Hezbollah with advanced weapons. The repeated strikes on Iranian weapons convoys throughout Syria and the intelligence the IDF has released about how Iranian military equipment is being moved from Iran to Lebanon are proof of this trend.”

“At any rate, because of the embarrassment and distress at home [Iran], it is important to keep tabs on Iran’s increased rate of uranium enrichment to high levels of 20 or 60%. The Iranians hope that this will allow them to step up pressure on the U.S. to return to the nuclear deal on Tehran’s terms, or will help them break through with their attempts to create nuclear facilities,” he said.

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