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Israel warns against travel to Turkey over Iranian retaliation fears

Israel's National Security Council labels Turkey a high-risk country over a potential backlash following the assassination of a senior Iranian official
Iranian women lift portraits of Revolutionary Guards colonel Sayyad Khodai during his funeral procession at Imam Hussein square in the capital Tehran, 24 May 2022 (AFP)
Iranian women lift portraits of Revolutionary Guards colonel Sayyad Khodai during his funeral procession at Imam Hussein square in the capital Tehran, 24 May 2022 (AFP)

Israel's National Security Council has warned its citizens against travelling to Turkey over fears of Iranian revenge attacks in the wake of the assassination of a high-ranking commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) last week

Sayyad Khodai, a senior member of the IRGC, was gunned down in Tehran by two assailants riding a motorbike who fled the scene. Israel did not officially claim responsibility for the killing of Kodai - however, Tehran has accused Tel Aviv of being behind the assassination.

On Monday, Haaretz reported that the National Security Council had updated its travel advice for Israeli citizens wanting to visit Turkey.

"For several weeks now, and even more so since Iran blamed Israel for the death of the Revolutionary Guards officer last week, there has been growing concern in the defense establishment about Iranian attempts to harm Israeli targets around the world," the National Security Council said in a statement. 

The council added that "a real threat to Israelis is posed in the Turkish arena and countries which share a border with Iran."

High profile target

Israel claimed that Khodai had plotted several attacks against Israeli citizens and diplomats, including a 2012 car bombing in New Delhi, which seriously injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat in India.

Khodai has also been accused of planning attacks on Israelis in Thailand, Kenya, Colombia, Cyprus and Turkey. Last week, Israel increased its security alertness in missions and embassies worldwide for fear of Iranian retaliation.

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According to the New York Times, Israel had informed US officials that the assassination of Khodai was meant as a message to Iran to put an end to the activity of Unit 840, an elite unit within the IRGC tasked with carrying out attacks on targets outside Iran.

Iran has never acknowledged the existence of Unit 840, of which Khodai was reportedly its deputy commander.

Khodai is the highest-profile Iranian figure to be assassinated since the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian nuclear scientist, in November 2020. 

Khodai was killed on 22 May outside his home in Mohahedin-e Eslam Street, one of the securest areas in Tehran, where top Iranian officials in the IRGC and its elite Quds Force live. 

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