New Delhi: The United States targeted but failed to eliminate another Iranian military official on the night it killed Major General Qasem Soleimani, chief of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), The Washington Post has reported.
According to the report, which quotes several US defence officials, the US military failed to eliminate Abdul Reza Shahlai in an airstrike in Yemen. Major General Soleimani was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad Airport on January 3. The strike, which was approved by President Donald Trump, also killed seven others.
The killing of Shahlai, the report states, would have been announced along with that of the killing of Soleimani. However, since the operation was unsuccessful, the announcement about the Yemen airstrike was not made and only Soleimani’s killing was announced.
The US State Department has announced a reward of USD 5 million on Shahlai, who was involved in a botched 2011 operation to assassinate a Saudi Arabian envoy in Washington, DC. He is said to be a key financier in the IRGC and ‘has a long history of targeting Americans and US allies globally,’ according to the State Department.
Reacting to the report, a Pentagon spokeswoman said, “We have seen the report of the said 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.”
Soleimani’s killing triggered a series of events, which, at one point, threatened to escalate into an all-out war until tempers were calmed down on both sides. It also led to the crash of a Ukrainian passenger airliner on Wednesday at the Tehran Airport, which was initially reported to be due to a ‘technical failure,’ but was later acknowledged by Iran to have been ‘accidentally’ shot down by its military.