A spokeswoman for the Israeli prime minister had declined to comment on the assassination of Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, but the paper cited a regime intelligence official, briefed on the communications, that Israel has informed American officials it was behind the killing.
The intelligence official, who reportedly spoke on condition of anonymity, also said the Israelis told the Americans the assassination was meant as a warning to Iran to halt the operations of what the regime alleged was a covert IRGC hit squad, active outside Iran.
Iran, however, said after the assassination that Khodaei had formerly fought Daesh and other terrorists in Syria and was a veteran of the 1980’s Iran-Iraq war.
Reports also say, that’s amid an ongoing defamation war against Iran, which Israel is using to undermine the talks for an agreement to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
Against that backdrop and similarities with previous assassinations by Israel in Iran, Iranian officials were quick to blame the regime and vowed a strong response.
“We will make the enemy regret this and none of the enemy’s evil actions will go unanswered,” IRGC’s Commander in Chief Major General Hossein Salami said at Khodaei’s funeral.
Iranian officials have in the past blamed Israel for a series of assassinations, including the killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near the capital Tehran as well as three other nuclear scientists who were targeted by hit squads and bombs, just before the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.