The U.S. military tried, but failed, to take out another senior Iranian commander on the same day that a U.S. air strike killed the Revolutionary Guard’s top general, U.S. officials said Friday.
The officials said a military air strike targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking commander in Iran’s Islamic Republican Guard Corps but the mission was not successful. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a classified mission.
Officials said both Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Mr. Shahlai were on approved military targeting lists, which indicates a deliberate effort by the United States to cripple the leadership of Iran’s Quds force, which has been designated a terror organization by the U.S.
A U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3 killed Gen. Soleimani shortly after he landed at Baghdad International Airport. Trump administration officials have justified the killing as an act of self-defence, saying he was planning military acts that threatened large numbers of American military and diplomatic officials in the Middle East. Iran, however, called the attack an act of terrorism, and on Jan. 8 it launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq that house American and coalition forces. No one was killed in that retaliation.
The U.S. State Department has offered a reward of US$15-million for information leading to the disruption of IRGC finances, including information on Mr. Shahlai, a key financier in the organization. The State Department said he “has a long history of targeting Americans and U.S. allies globally,” and planned multiple assassinations of coalition forces in Iraq. It said that his activities included providing weapons and explosives to Shia militia groups and directing a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington in 2011.
The Pentagon declined to discuss the highly-classified operation.
“We have seen the report of a Jan. 2 air strike in Yemen, which is long-understood as a safe space for terrorists and other adversaries to the United States. The Department of Defence does not discuss alleged operations in the region,” said Navy Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The Washington Post first reported the development.
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