Report: Israel Confirmed US Intel on Soleimani Whereabouts
Israel reportedly confirmed United States intelligence on the whereabouts of former Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani ahead of his assassination earlier this month in a drone strike. According to NBC News, Israeli officials verified information acquired and transmitted to the US by assets in Syrian and Iraqi airports that Soleimani was on a flight from Damascus to Baghdad in the early hours of January 3. Although the media previously reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about the plan to assassinate Soleimani two days in advance, Israeli officials have claimed that Jerusalem was in no way involved in the killing. If the NBC report is correct, it is likely that Israel was attempting to distance itself from the operation in order to avoid possible direct retaliation by Iranian proxies such as from Hizbullah in Lebanon. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said in an interview over the weekend that Soleimani was plotting attacks against four US embassies before he was killed. He also confirmed that new US economic sanctions have been imposed on Iran’s steel industry as well as eight government officials.