A burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following a US airstrike which targeted Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. (AP)

January 4, 2020

Israel revealed on Friday that it had the opportunity to assassinate commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Qassem Soleimani eleven years ago, but was barred by the United States.

Security sources in Tel Aviv said that Soleimani was on a list of assassination targets. In February 2008, it was presented with the opportunity to kill him when it assassinated notorious Hezbollah operative Imad Mughnieh in Damascus.

Soleimani had driven Mughnieh to the vehicle that was rigged with explosives that took his life.

The sources revealed that the American administration at the time was a full partner in the plot. When the Israelis realized that Soleimani may also be taken out in the attack, they opted to kill him from the air. The Americans, however, interceded and prevented them from carrying out the operation.

Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad on Friday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday welcomed the assassination, saying President Donald Trump “deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively.”

Israel has long viewed Iran as its greatest threat and has carried out airstrikes in recent years against Iran-backed forces in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Military analyst Amos Harel wrote in Israel’s Haaretz daily: “The first Iranian response is expected to come soon. The obvious battlefield will be Iraq and certainly American targets.”

“The worrying question for Israel is whether Iran will try to involve it via revenge attacks,” he said. “In the next few days, the Iranians will also probably accuse Israel of involvement in the killing. Not a week passes without a senior Israeli official threatening Iran, or the Israeli media reporting new details on covert Israeli operations against Iranian interests in the region.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.