It has been revealed that the US military carried out a failed assassination attempt on a senior Iranian commander in Yemen on the same day it launched air strikes which killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, according to American officials.
The Washington Post and the New York Times reported that US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Abdul Reza Shahlai who is the commander of the Yemen division of Iran's elite Quds Force, near the capital Sanaa.
However, it is believed that a lower-level Quds Force operative was killed instead. Shahlai survived and has since gone into hiding. Shahlai is said to be a key figure in financing the activities of the Iranian military force.
The IRGC Qods Force seems to have acknowledged a fatality in Yemen for 1st time. State media says that Mostafa QF operative Mohammad-Mirza'i died in a military operation on 3 January in "one of the fields of Resistance Front." State media is very open about Iraq, Syria deaths. pic.twitter.com/QwaeeHvfGT
— Amir Toumaj (@AmirToumaj) January 6, 2020
It is thought that the failed attack along with the Soleimani strike may have been part of a broader effort to cripple the Quds Force. The Trump administration had reportedly offered a $15 million reward for information about Shahlai. According to PressTV the commander was also accused him of involvement in a "shadowy and unsubstantiated" plot in 2011 to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
Pompeo: "there were a series of imminent attacks, we don't know when, we don't know where.
— Jason Sparks (@sparksjls) January 10, 2020
The revelation casts further doubt as to the extent of Trump's claim of the "imminent threat" Soleimani posed to the US. American Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said he "didn't see" specific evidence that Soleimani was planning attacks on four US embassies. "The president didn't cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said was he believed," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation" yesterday.
Pompeo says they didn't know what was gonna get attacked. Trump says four embassies. One of them is lying or both of them are lying. Your choice. https://t.co/jpccBzrcWB
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) January 11, 2020
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo also failed to specify on what the alleged imminent threats were, during a recent Fox News interview, we don't know precisely when and we don't know precisely where, but it was real," he insisted.
On 3 January, the US assassination of General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), led to retaliatory missile strikes by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp on two US bases in Iraq, with vows of further "harsher" responses.
Last month, Iran and the Houthi-supported National Salvation Government based in Sanaa signed a military cooperation agreement representing the first formal deal between the two parties.