/Pentagon launched second attack on an Iranian militant the same day it killed Soleimani

Pentagon launched second attack on an Iranian militant the same day it killed Soleimani

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon launched a separate attack on a key Iranian military leader in Yemen the same day it killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, according to a U.S. official.

The airstrike on Jan. 2 targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a commander of the Quds Force, according to the official who was not authorized to comment publicly. The mission was first reported by the Washington Post. Shahlai was not killed.

“We have seen the report of a January 2 airstrike in Yemen, which is long-understood as a safe space for terrorists and other adversaries to the United States,” Navy Cdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The Department of Defense does not discuss alleged operations in the region.”

Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, declined to comment.

The attempt to kill Shahlai on the same day a drone targeted Soleimani would have decapitated key leadership for the Quds Force, an elite wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. That organization oversees Iran’s ties to armed proxy groups in the region such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, militias with whom Soleimani was holding meetings when he was killed in a U.S. strike near Baghdad’s main airport.

In a strike that Tehran said was in retaliation for killing Soleimani, Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops. U.S. officials said there were no casualties and only minimal damage.