TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A senior member of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards was killed outside his home in Tehran on Sunday by unidentified gunmen on motorbikes, state television reported.
Although the Guard gave few details about the attack which happened in broad daylight in the heart of the Iranian capital, the group blamed the killing on “global arrogance”, usually coded for states United and Israel.
This accusation, along with the style of the brazen killing, raised the possibility of a link to other motorcycle killings previously attributed to Israel in Iran, such as those targeting the country’s nuclear scientists. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
The two assailants shot Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei five times in his unarmored Iranian-made Kia Pride, state media said, just off a heavily guarded street where the Iranian parliament is located.
Reports identified Khodaei only as a ‘sanctuary defender’, a reference to Iranians fighting the extremist Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq within the elite Al-Quds Guard force which oversees operations there. ‘foreign.
READ MORE: UN envoy says US sanctions on Iran worsen humanitarian situation
Little information was publicly available about Khodaei, as Quds officers tend to be shadowy figures carrying out covert military missions supporting Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and other militias in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.
The Tehran prosecutor arrived at the scene of the crime hours after the murder to investigate and asked the police to arrest the perpetrators urgently. The speed of the probe suggested Khodaei’s importance in the murky structure of the Guard’s overseas operations.
These operations have been the object of repeated Israeli air attacks in Syria. An Israeli strike near the Syrian capital of Damascus killed two Guardsmen in March, prompting Iran to retaliate by firing a barrage of missiles into northern Iraq.
Security forces were pursuing the suspected attackers, state television reported, without giving further details or giving a motive for the killing.
Around the same time, state media said Revolutionary Guard security forces had discovered and arrested members of an Israeli intelligence network operating in the country, without specifying whether they had any connection to the murder of Khodaei.