A series of Syrian and Iraqi informants are suspected of providing the US with the information that led to the killing of Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani last week, according to a new report.
The suspected informants — two security employees at Baghdad airport and two workers in private Syrian airline Cham Wings — gave the intelligence about Soleimani’s secret flight from Damascus to Baghdad, Reuters reported, quoting security officials, Baghdad airport employees and Cham Wings employees.
A member of Iraq’s National Security Agency was quoted as saying there are “strong indications that a network of spies inside Baghdad Airport was involved in leaking sensitive security details.”
The probe into the informants in Iraq is being led by Iraqi National Security Adviser Falih al-Fayadh, who heads Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, while in Syria the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate is looking into the local employees of Cham Wings.
“Initial findings of the Baghdad investigation team suggest that the first tip on Soleimani came from Damascus airport,” an Iraqi official told Reuters. “The job of the Baghdad airport cell was to confirm the arrival of the target and details of his convoy.”
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen significantly since the US carried out the airstrike that killed Soleimani. In the wake of the killing, the Iraqi parliament voted to press the government to expel US troops from the country and Iran announced that it will no longer abide by any of the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal.
The US launched the airstrike that killed the Iranian general after a US defense contractor was killed and several American and Iraqi troops were wounded in a rocket attack in northern Iraq which was in turn launched in retaliation for US airstrike which killed Iranian-backed militants at several sites in Syria and Iraq. Supporters of the militant group subsequently broke into the US embassy in Baghdad.
Iran retaliated for the killing of the top Iranian general early Wednesday local time by launching missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house American troops. No casualties were reported.