Death of Iranian colonel at his home sparks conflicting reports about how he died – as Tehran denies that elite military official was murdered
- Colonel Ali Esmailzadeh died in ‘incident at his residence’, state media reports
- Iran’s state news agency denied reports that the colonel had been murdered
- Esmailzadeh’s death comes just weeks after Colonel Hassan killed Khodaei
Iran has reported the death of another colonel of its Revolutionary Guards elite Quds force, the second in two weeks from the unit overseeing Iran’s military operations abroad.
Colonel Ali Esmailzadeh died days ago in an “incident at his residence” in the city of Karaj, about 30 kilometers northwest of Tehran’s capital, the official IRNA news agency reported, citing an informed source.
It did not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding Esmailzadeh’s death, but denied reports that the colonel had been murdered.
The denial comes because other news outlets close to the Garde said Esmailzadeh fell from his roof or balcony.
Esmailzadeh’s death came just weeks after two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, 50, five times in a car outside his Tehran residence on May 22.
Colonel Ali Esmailzadeh died days ago in an ‘incident at his residence’ in the city of Karaj, some 30 miles northwest of Tehran’s capital, the official IRNA news agency reported, citing an informed source
The two attackers shot Khodaei in his unarmored Iran-made Kia Pride, state media said, near a high-security street to the Iranian parliament.
Iran blamed his murder on the United States and its allies, including Israel, and vowed to avenge his death. Iran has traditionally blamed Israel for such targeted killings, including those of nuclear scientists in recent years.
It was Iran’s most high-profile assassination since the November 2020 assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh — an act the Islamic Republic also blamed on its nemesis Israel.
Esmailzadeh’s death came just weeks after two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, 50, five times in a car outside his Tehran residence on May 22 (Photo: Scene)
IRNA said an investigation into Esmailzadeh’s death had been opened, without providing further details.
Tasnim news agency said ‘Ali Esmailzadeh died after falling from the terrace of his house, which was not adequately protected’, without giving further details on his identity.
Meanwhile, reports identified Khodaei only as a “defender of the sanctuary,” referring to Iranians fighting the extremist Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq within the Guard’s elite Quds force that oversees foreign operations.
A mourner holds a poster of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei at his funeral ceremony in Tehran on May 24
There was little public information about Khodaei, as Quds officers are shadowy figures who carry out covert military missions in support of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and other militias in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.
The Tehran prosecutor arrived at the crime scene for investigation within hours of Khodaei’s murder and demanded that the police arrest the perpetrators urgently. The probe’s speed suggested Khodaei’s prominence in the murky fabric of the Guard’s overseas operations.
Those operations have been repeatedly hit by Israeli air strikes in Syria. An Israeli attack near the Syrian capital Damascus killed two members of the Guards in March, prompting Iran to retaliate by firing a barrage of missiles into northern Iraq.
The Guards have been classified as a terrorist group by the United States.