Trump: Israel was part of plans to kill Qassem Soleimani, backed out at last moment

Former US president asserts Netanyahu was ‘big part’ of operation before reneging; deadly attacks by Iranian militias wouldn’t have happened on his watch

File: Former President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, September 15, 2020 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
File: Former President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, September 15, 2020 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Former US president Donald Trump said Sunday that Israel was a part of the plans to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force who was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in early 2020, but pulled out shortly before the attack was carried out.

“When we took out Soleimani, you know Israel was supposed to do it with us. Two days before the take-out, they said, ‘We can’t do it. We can’t do it.’ I said ‘What?’ ‘We can’t do it,'” the Republican presidential frontrunner told Fox News.

“Then I had a certain general, who’s great, I said, ‘So General, do we do it ourselves?’ He said, ‘We can, sir, it’s up to you.’ I said, ‘We’ll do it,'” Trump  continued.

“But Israel was a part of it. You know, Bibi was a big part of it. And we had everything planned, everything. Because what [Soleimani did] was terrible. What he did to us was terrible. Killed so many of our soldiers. Killed so many people,” he added, using the nickname of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump asserted that attacks by Iranian militias on US forces that killed three troops in Jordan last week “would have never happened with me,” asserting that actions taken under his administration led Tehran to inform Washington before any attack to avoid major escalations.

According to an Axios report in 2021, Trump said that he had expected that Israel and Netanyahu would be more active in the operation, hinting he would reveal the full story in the future.

“Israel did not do the right thing,” Trump told reporter Barak Ravid in an interview for his book “Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East.”

“I can’t talk about this story. But I was very disappointed in Israel having to do with that event… People will be hearing about that at the right time,” he said at the time.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds up a photo of assassinated commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani, at the United Nations General Assembly, September 21, 2022. (Julia Nikhinson/AP Photo)

Soleimani was the architect of Iran’s regional terror activities and is hailed as a national icon among supporters of Iran’s theocracy.

Soleimani, who led the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, was credited with helping arm, train, and lead armed groups across the region, including the Shiite militias in Iraq, fighters in Syria and Yemen, the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, and Palestinian terror groups in the West Bank and Gaza.

The US held him responsible for the deaths of many of its soldiers in Iraq.

Senior Revolutionary Guard commander General Qassem Soleimani attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (not seen) and Revolutionary Guard commanders in Tehran, Iran, September 18, 2016. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Netanyahu praised Trump for the strike that killed the influential general in January 2020.

“Trump is worthy of full appreciation for acting with determination, strongly and swiftly,” he told reporters at the time. “We stand fully by the United States in its just battle for security, peace, and self-defense.”

In January, a dual Islamic State suicide bombing killed 95 people and wounded dozens of others attending a commemoration for Soleimani in the city of Kerman in Iran.

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