Colonel Sayyad Khodai was killed on Sunday by two motorcyclists who opened fire on him in the east of the Iranian capital as he was returning home. He was hit with five bullets, according to the official Irna agency.
Iran blamed “elements linked to global arrogance”, a phrase referring to the United States and its allies in official Iranian phraseology, of the murder.
Iribnews, the state television site, presented the slain officer as a member of the Quds Force, the elite unit of the Revolutionary Guards in charge of external operations. The victim was “known” in Syria, a country at war where Iran militarily helps the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The funeral began in the morning on Imam-Hossein Square in Tehran, with the Iranian national anthem, the recitation of the Koran and religious songs honoring the Iranians who fell as “martyrs” in Syria.
The crowd then accompanied the military vehicle carrying the coffin covered in an Iranian flag, to Shohada Square, nearly 1.5 km away, near the place where Sayyad Khodai was killed.
Participants waved Shiite flags but also photos of Iranian soldiers who died in Iraq, a neighboring country where Iran exercises great influence, and in Syria, as well as those of fighters from the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988).
“Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, they occasionally shouted on the way.
As the procession passes, on a billboard the words “terrible revenge” accompany a portrait of General Qassem Soleimani, former head of the Quds Force, eliminated in Iraq in an American raid in Baghdad in January 2020.
The head of the Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, as well as Brigadier General Esmaïl Qaani, commander of the Quds Force, attended the funeral.
Iran’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced on Monday the opening of an investigation into the “exact circumstances of the assassination” of Khodai. And President Ebrahim Raïssi affirmed that his murder would be “avenged”.
Born in 1972 in the Turkish-speaking city of Mianeh in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan (north-west), Sayyad Khodaï must be buried in the square of the martyrs at the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in the south of Tehran.
In November 2020, another prominent Iranian figure, nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed near Tehran in an attack on his convoy blamed by Iran on Israel.
Israel and the United States are enemies of Iran. Tehran does not recognize the existence of the State of Israel and its diplomatic ties with Washington have been severed since 1980.