Iran's supreme leader leads funeral prayers for IRGC commander in Tehran

Head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps says revenge for Mousavi's death will be nothing less than removal of the Zionist regime

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Thousands gathered in the Iranian capital on Thursday for the funeral of senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Razi Mousavi, three days after he was killed in what Tehran says was an Israeli strike.

Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, led funeral prayers in Tehran, before the body was taken to the central Imam Hossein square. Khamenei had earlier met members of Mousavi's family.

The crowd in the square chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America”.

Many of the mourners were waving yellow flags imprinted with the message “I am your opponent”, a reference to Israel.

The death of Brig Gen Mousavi in Damascus increased concerns that the war in Gaza could become a regional conflict involving Iran, its overseas proxies and its adversaries.

Iranian state media says an Israeli missile strike on Monday killed Mousavi, a senior commander of the IRGC foreign operations arms, the Quds Force, near the Syrian capital Damascus.

An Israeli military spokesperson declined specific comment about Mousavi's death on Monday, but said it took whatever action was necessary to defend the country.

The Israeli army, which has launched hundreds of strikes on Iran-linked targets in war-torn Syria in recent years, said only that it does not comment on foreign media reports.

The head of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, praised Mousavi as “one of the most experienced and effective IRGC commanders in the Axis of Resistance” – Tehran-aligned armed groups in the Middle East.

IRGC spokesman Ramezan Sharif said on Wednesday that “our response to Mousavi's assassination will be a combination of direct action as well as [from] others led by the Axis of Resistance”.

Funeral procession held in Iraq for IRGC commander killed in Syria

Funeral procession held in Iraq for IRGC commander killed in Syria

Mr Sharif said that Israel's killing of the general “was likely due to its failures” when Palestinian Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on October 7.

Israel has retaliated with a relentless bombardment, siege and ground invasion of Gaza in which at least 21,110 people have been killed, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Iran, which supports Hamas financially and militarily, praised the deadly attacks as a success, but denied any direct involvement.

“Our revenge for the martyrdom of Sayyed Razi will be nothing less than the removal of the Zionist regime,” Maj Gen Salami said in a televised funeral speech.

“I am hopeful that soon, God permitting, the great and honourable Palestinian fighters will wipe out the geographical and political name of this evil and fake regime.”

Mousavi’s body was flown from Syria to the Shiite city of Najaf in Iraq on Wednesday before being taken for burial in Tehran.

Since war broke out between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas on October 7, Iran-backed groups have mounted operations against Israel, while others have threatened US interests in the region.

Middle East political analysts and observers told The National that the killing of the IRGC commander could be a provocation by Israel to draw its existential enemy, Iran, into a regional war.

Updated: December 28, 2023, 11:20 AM