New York, January 14, 2020
Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force – Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite black-ops arm – was killed in a US drone strike outside a Baghdad airport on Jan. 3. The hit further strained US-Iran ties, sparking a flurry of threats from both administrations and Iranian retaliatory actions on Iraqi soil.
Widely considered second only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Soleimani wielded immense power and influence in his position. He was a key figure in spreading and maintaining Iran’s aspirations of regional hegemony.
The report said informants at the Damascus international airport tipped off the CIA about the time Soleimani’s plane took off for Baghdad and it was Israel that confirmed the information provided to the Americans.
According to The New York Times, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the operation. This makes Netanyahu the only leader in the region that was informed about the American mission, it said.
NBC quoted two sources who the network said were “directly familiar” with the details of Soleimani’s assassination as saying that as the Cham Wings Airbus A320 carrying Soleimani landed in Baghdad, CIA agents on the ground confirmed the exact location of the plane and then US drones armed with four Hellfire missiles moved into position in the Iraqi airspace, fully controlled by American forces.