- The US military reportedly launched a strike meant to kill another top Iranian military official the same day as the drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general.
- The top-secret mission took place in Yemen and targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite and secretive Quds Force, The Washington Post reported.
- A Pentagon spokesperson told Insider it was aware of reports of an “airstrike in Yemen” but added that the Department of Defense “does not discuss alleged operations in the region.”
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The US military tried and failed to kill another top Iranian military official, Abdul Reza Shahlai, the same day earlier this month as the drone strike that took out Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, The Washington Post first reported, citing US officials.
The unsuccessful top-secret mission took place in Yemen, The Post reported, where the US has been supporting the Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in a bloody civil war that’s sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
“If we had killed him, we’d be bragging about it that same night,” a senior US official told The Post.
Another official told The Post that the US did not disclose the operation against Shahlai because it was unsuccessful but signaled that he could be targeted again in the future.
Shahlai is a financier and key commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite and secretive Quds Force (IRGC-QF), of which Soleimani was the leader.
Separately, a US official told CNN that to the best of their knowledge, the Trump administration is not embarking on a broader mission to decapitate senior IRGC leadership.
“We have seen the report of a January 2 airstrike in Yemen, which is long-understood as a safe space for terrorists and other adversaries to the United States. The Department of Defense does not discuss alleged operations in the region,” Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokesperson, told Insider when contacted about the reports of an unsuccessful strike on Shahlai.
Soleimani was Iran’s most important military leader and widely considered the second most influential figure in Iran behind Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader. His killing brought the US and Iran to the brink of war, sparking a retaliatory missile attack from Iran against US and coalition forces in Iraq earlier this week.
Iran offered an off-ramp to President Donald Trump immediately after the missile attack, which did not result in any US casualties. Subsequently, Trump on Thursday signaled he would not retaliate and risk sparking a wider conflict.
At the same time, the Trump administration announced new economic sanctions against Iran on Friday, a move that shows tensions between the two countries are far from resolved.
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