On the day that the US Army killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, US forces carried out another covert mission against Abdul Raza Shahlai, a senior Iranian official in Yemen, according to US sources quoted by the Washington Post. Shahlai funds and commands the Quds Force in Yemen. The unsuccessful strike may indicate that Soleimani's assassination last week was part of a broader operation, raising questions about whether the mission was intended to eliminate the leadership of the Revolutionary Guards or merely prevent an attack on American targets.
According to the report, U.S. officials said the operation against Shahlai remains highly classified, refusing to disclose details other than the fact the operation was unsuccessful. According to the sources, the Pentagon "followed the operations simultaneously and intended to announce both assassinations at the same time."
If we would've killed him, we would have bragged about it that night," a senior American official said.
In Iran, there were signs that the revenge for Soleimani's assassination was not finished with the missile attack on American bases in Iraq this week. Revolutionary Guards official Abdullah Argai warned on Thursday that "a more powerful revenge will arrive soon."
However, in Tehran there are other voices being heard as well. Earlier Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Jawad Zarif said again that the revenge operation is over.
Revolutionary Guards Air Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said on Thursday regarding the Iranian missile attack that, "our goal was to destroy the central command room in the Ain al-Assad base - and that is what we have done."
He said nine American planes evacuated the wounded from the base to Israel, Jordan and one of Baghdad's hospitals, adding that "Trump declares there are no wounded Americans? Open the gates to the base and show the world."
Following tensions in the region, US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone on Thursday evening about "critical regional issues."
The conversation focused on recent developments regarding Iran. In a statement, the White House said the leaders discussed "critical issues regarding the region and inter-state relations".
On Thursday night, Reuters reported that workers at Damascus and Baghdad airports cooperated with the US military and provided information about Suleimani's location before the assassination.Idan Zonshine translated this story.