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Israeli intelligence involved in U.S. airstrike that killed Iran's Soleimani: report

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨CGTN

01-13-2020 09:36 BJT

Israel helped the United States in carrying out a missile strike at Baghdad International Airport that killed senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, NBC News reported over the weekend.

Israel was involved in the January 3 operation, providing the U.S. with key intelligence information that helped confirm that Soleimani had been on a nighttime flight from Damascus to Baghdad, the NBC report said, quoting two sources with direct knowledge of the operation.

According to NBC, informants at a Syrian airport were able to notify the CIA about exactly which plane Soleimani would be on, which Israeli intelligence then confirmed and verified.

After Soleimani's plane landed, the U.S. used drones to track the powerful head of Iran's Quds Force exiting the aircraft and entering a car, which was later targeted with four missiles.

Furthermore, according to The New York Times, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was likely the only U.S. ally aware of the U.S. plans to kill Soleimani, having spoken to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in advance.

Pompeo phoned Netanyahu on January 1 reportedly to thank him for Israel's support in efforts to combat Iran and after the attack on the U.S. embassy in Iraq.

Before departing for Athens the following morning, Netanyahu alluded to "very, very dramatic things" happening in the region.

"We know that our region is stormy; very, very dramatic things are happening in it. We are alert and are monitoring the situation. We are in continuous contact with our great friend the U.S., including my conversation yesterday afternoon," he said at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Hours later, Soleimani and several top officials from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in the airstrike at Baghdad International Airport, along with an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia commander.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen significantly since the airstrike.

On January 8, Iran launched several missiles against American bases in Iraq in retaliation of the U.S. killing of Soleimani five days earlier. Later that day, a Ukrainian passenger plane, PS752, carrying 176 people, crashed soon after takeoff from Tehran airport.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday admitted the Ukrainian airliner was accidentally shot down by Iranian forces. In a statement, he said a military probe into Wednesday's incident had found "missiles fired due to human error" brought down the Boeing 737, calling it an "unforgivable mistake."

In the phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Rouhani told his Ukrainian counterpart on Saturday that "all the persons involved in this air disaster will be brought to justice."

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