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By on May 24, 2022 0

Tehran, Iran: Thousands of mourners took to the streets of Tehran on Tuesday to pay their respects to a member of the Revolutionary Guards killed by two gunmen on a motorbike earlier this week, banging the air with their fists and chanting ” Death to Israel”. ”
Sunday’s assassination of Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei bore hallmarks of previous deadly attacks in Iran blamed on Israel, such as those targeting the country’s nuclear scientists.
Responsibility for the attack has not been claimed. Iranian officials blamed “global arrogance,” which is the code of the United States and Israel, for Khodaei’s killing.
The funeral procession snaked through Tehran’s main cemetery as mourners chanted anti-American and anti-Israel slogans. A prominent poster hailed Khodaei as a martyr along with General Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed in a 2020 US drone strike in Iraq, and flew tattered Israeli, US and British flags.
“Iran is a victim of terrorism,” said the banner, covered with the logos of Mossad and the Central Intelligence Agency.
The guard’s commander, General Hossein Salami, as well as General Esmail Ghaani, head of the Iranian Al-Quds Expeditionary Force, attended the funeral.
Ghaani also offered his condolences at Khodaei’s home on Monday evening. Iran’s nuclear negotiator visited the scene of the crime, underscoring the government’s shock. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has vowed revenge. A street in Tehran already bears the colonel’s name.
Khodaei, 50, remains an obscure figure, and Iran has yet to provide any biographical details beyond the fact that he was a member of the elite Quds Force which oversees overseas operations by the through Iran’s allied militias across the Middle East. The Guard described him as “the defender of sanctuary” – a reference to Iranians who support militias fighting the extremist group Daesh in Syria and Iraq.
The manner in which the killing was carried out evoked previous Israeli targeted attacks in Iran. In November 2020, a leading Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed while traveling by car outside Tehran.
Women in black chadors cried and wept over Khodaei’s coffin, an ornate box covered in flowers and draped in the Iranian flag and mourning symbols of the Shia faith.
“We just want revenge,” Moghtaderi, one of the mourners, told The Associated Press at the funeral. She only gave her last name. “The enemies must be aware that we are loyal to the martyrs and that their blood is so precious to us.”
Iranian security forces are still pursuing the attackers, who escaped, state media reported. Authorities have yet to make any arrests for the murder.
The procession took place as a sandstorm blanketed Iran, shutting down schools and government offices in the capital.
Meanwhile, in the country’s central desert, a fighter jet crashed during a training exercise, killing two pilots, state media reported. Reports did not identify the cause of the accident at the Anarak training site near the central city of Isfahan. An investigation was underway.
The Iranian Air Force has an assortment of American-made military aircraft purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It also has Russian-made MiG and Sukhoi aircraft.
Decades of Western sanctions have made it difficult to obtain spare parts and service aging planes. Accidents sometimes occur among his failing fleet. In February, a fighter jet plunged into a football field in Tabriz, in the northwest of the country, killing both pilots and a civilian.
Iran is believed to have modeled its F-7 fighter after the Chinese J-7 jet which is believed to be a copycat of the Soviet-era MiG-21. Beijing built the plane for export to countries like Pakistan, Iran, Sudan and North Korea. For years, Iranian pilots have used the F-7 for training, with some mishaps.
Four years ago, an F-7 similarly crashed near Isfahan during an air exercise due to what was later described as a technical problem.