January 13, 2020
Israel helped the United States in the operation that resulted in the killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, a US report said over the weekend.
According to an NBC News report late Friday, Israel was involved in the January 3 operation, handing the Americans key intelligence details.
The information helped confirm intelligence provided by informants at a Syrian airport that Soleimani had been on a nighttime flight from Damascus to Baghdad, the report said, quoting two sources with direct knowledge of the operation and other US officials briefed on it.
After his plane landed, it was a simple matter of using drones to track him exiting the aircraft and entering a car, which was later targeted with four missiles.
Israeli media reported the day after the strike that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of time about the US plans to kill Soleimani.
Pompeo phoned Netanyahu on January 1, to thank him for Israel’s support in efforts to combat Iran and after the attack on the US embassy in Iraq.
Before departing for Athens the following morning, Netanyahu alluded to “very, very dramatic things” happening in the region.
Hours later, Soleimani and several top officials from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed in the airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport, along with an Iranian-backed commander in Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces.
Netanyahu had been the only non-US leader who appeared in the know about the planned operation beforehand, the New York Times reported Saturday.
In wake of the killing, Netanyahu said Washington had the right to defend itself by eliminating Soleimani.
“Just as Israel has the right of self-defense, the United States has exactly the same right,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued by his office.
“Qassem Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks.”