NBC News claimed, citing unnamed sources, that Israel's intelligence apparatus helped the U.S. stage the operation that led to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani and the Deputy Head of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes.
According to the NBC sources, Israeli intelligence provided the U.S. military command with key details on the matter, which later proved critical in the assassination of Soleimani in Baghdad.
NBC said one Israeli informant at the Damascus International Airport confirmed that Soleimani had been on a nightime flight from the Syrian capital to Baghdad, which was used to tip off the CIA.
The New York Times, in turn, reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ahead of Soleimani’s killing, and that the Jewish state likely became Washington’s only ally which was in the know about the issue.
In October, the Iranian news agency Tasnim cited the IRGC’s head of intelligence Hossein Taeb as saying that Israel and the West had collaborated to assassinate Soleimani in order to “trigger a religious war inside Iran”.
“Frustrated by their failure to upset security in Iran or to harm the IRGC military bases, the enemies had hatched an extensive plot to hit Maj.-Gen. Soleimani in his home province of Kerman,” Taeb claimed at the time.
Following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards would respond by firing 22 missiles at the U.S. forces in Iraq. The attack, which was carried out on the night of Qassem Soleimani's burial, was considered a success by Tehran, despite claims by Washington that no military personnel were killed or wounded.
Since the assassination, however, tensions between Iran and U.S. have been at a four-decade-long high, with Washington furthering the divide between the two countries by imposing more sanctions against Tehran.