Israel and an elite Iraqi Kurdish counter terrorism unit were involved in the US killing of Iran’s top commander Qassem Soleimani in 2020, Yahoo News reported.
Soleimani headed the Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and was considered the most powerful figure in Iran after the supreme leader.
He was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq on January 3, 2020.
In the hours before Soleimani boarded his flight from Damascus to Baghdad, the top general switched cellphones three times, the Yahoo report said, citing a US military official.
Israel had access to Soleimani’s numbers and passed them over to the US, who then traced Soleimani and his current phone to Baghdad, according to the report.
When Soleimani landed in the Iraqi capital, members of the Counter Terrorism Group (CTG), an elite Kurdish unit in northern Iraq, were also present at the airport. Posing as baggage handlers, they were tasked with identifying Soleimani.
The US and Israeli governments have not commented on the report, but the CTG on Sunday denied any involvement in the killing of Soleimani.
Beside the top general, the Trump administration had considered taking down other Iranian figures on the night of Soleimani’s killing, including Abdolreza Shahlai, who is believed to be the Quds Force’s top commander in Yemen.
Iran responded to the killing of Soleimani days later, launching ballistic missiles at US forces stationed in Iraq. No American troops were killed in the attack.