Iranian students burned US and Israeli flags, along with photos of President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden, as the Iranian establishment admitted Friday’s killing of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a major setback.
The students, members of the paramilitary unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, demonstrated outside Iran’s foreign ministry in Tehran, The Times of Israel reported. Fakrizadeh was a senior officer in the IRGC.
Earlier Saturday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed revenge for the killing.
The assassination was a huge blow to the Iranian defense establishment, Iranian Army commander Mohammed Bagheri admitted, Axios reported. Khamenei pledged that Fakhrizadeh’s work would continue.
Fakrizadeh was the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program and was compared with Robert Oppenheimer, who led the US Manhattan Project during World War II. Killing him is seen as a step toward increasing the pressure from the Trump administration and the Israeli government against Iran, a move that was widely criticized by US allies in Europe.
Israeli officials briefed several media outlets in Israel that without Fakhrizadeh, it will be hard for Iran to continue its nuclear program, according to Axios.
Israel placed its embassies around the world on a heightened security alert after Iran blamed Israel for the attack.
One American official and two other intelligence officials confirmed that Israel was behind the slaying, which took place in a village outside of Tehran, the New York Times reported. Fakhrizadeh was reportedly attacked by at least five gunmen after his sedan stopped following an explosion.
It was unclear how much the United States may have known about the operation in advance, the Times said, but the two nations have long shared intelligence regarding Iran, which Israel considers its greatest threat.
The killing took place days after a secret trilateral meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.