As per the latest US intelligence report, the drone missile which killed the Iranian general Qassim Soleimani, was fired from the US military base in Qatar. The “near-silent” Reaper drone, MQ-9 ‘hunter-killer’, launched early on Friday, killed Soleimani, head of the overseas Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, and five others near Baghdad airport.
The UK’s dailymail, the first to break the story, wrote that Hellfire R9X Ninja missile fired by the MQ-9 Reaper drone was launched from Al-Udeid military and airbase in Qatar.
The UK media report reveals that the two missiles which hit the car carrying Soleimani, 62, and al-Muhandis, 66, were piloted by a two-man crew. It added that the $64 million (£49 million) Reaper drone of 230 mph carried four laser-guided Hellfire missiles with 38lb warheads capable of destroying a tank, along with Paveway bombs.
The moment the story broke, highlighting Qatari proxy-involvement in the US airstrike, Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, flew to Tehran for talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, to clarify its stand.
For long Qatar had been following a double-standard foreign policy to get twin gains from US-Iran rivalry but the recent report seems to have put Doha in a spot. Qatar’s complex foreign policy involves giving US land to establish its biggest military base on the Arab country’s territory while helping Iran and funding its extremist activities at the same time.
Sheikh Mohammed, to save face, sided with Iran and criticized the attack. He said that the situation in the region was sensitive and hoped for a peaceful solution leading to de-escalation of the issue.
Al Thani expressing his condolences, condemned the attack as a violation of the territorial integrity of Iraq. He said Doha never thought that such an event would happen and such a decision would ever be taken.
“No such similar action was taken in the past, which is why we are very uncomfortable and worried,” Al Thani said.
The US-Iran conflict seemed to have reached its peak with Soleimani’s murder. The friction between the two started building up in May 2018 when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and other world powers including Russia, China, Germany, France, and UK.
To avenge the killing of Soleimani, Iran has announced a bounty of $80 million over Trump’s head. The bounty was announced during the televised funeral of the Iranian general.
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