Israeli intelligence was instrumental in the successful US assassination of the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, NBC News reported on Sunday.
Soleimani wielded immense power and influence in his position and was crucial as the architect who spread and maintained Iran’s influence in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere in the region through acts of terrorism.
After flying to Iraq from Damascus on a Cham Wings Airbus A320, he and his security entourage were killed by four US hellfire missiles targeting their two vehicles as they were leaving Baghdad International Airport on January 3. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an important leader of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, was also killed.
According to NBC and Reuters, informants in Damascus were able to tip off the CIA about exactly which plane Soleimani would be on, which Israeli intelligence confirmed and verified.
Reuters was told by Iraqi investigators that the US had inside help from two security staffers at the Baghdad airport and two Cham Wings employees – “a spy at the Damascus airport and another one working on board the airplane,” the source said. Iraqi national security agency’s investigators believe the four suspects, who have not been arrested, worked as part of a wider group of people feeding information to the US military, the official said.
According to The New York Times, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was likely the only US ally in the know regarding the assassination, having spoken to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo beforehand.
sourcs: JP, NY Times, NBC, Reuters