The U.S.'s \"decapitating\" of Iran's top general, Sleimani, quickly ignited U.S.-Iranian relations, and how the U.S. pinpointed the location of Mr. Sleimani's car to carry out a precise assassination has sparked much speculation.
10(Reuters)- Iraqi security officials investigating the U.S. beheading said there were \"informants\" on both sides of Syria and Iraq who leaked General Suleimani's whereabouts from Damascus, Syria, to Baghdad, Iraq, to help the U.S. get rid of Suleimani.
Reuters interviewed two iraqi security officials, two baghdad airport employees, two police officers and two syrian \"tatar wing\" aviation employees with first-hand information about the iraqi investigation. The interview showed that identifying the alleged informant was the focus of an investigation into the attack by Iraqi national security agencies.
\"The initial findings of the Baghdad investigation team indicate that the first-hand information on Suleimani's whereabouts came from Damascus airport,\" said Iraqi security officials interviewed.
Two of the four \"snitching\" suspects currently targeted by the Iraqi side are employees of Syrian Air \"Tartan Wing\" and two are security personnel at Baghdad airport. Cham Wings is a private Syrian airline based in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Concerning the two alleged employees of the tatar wing, reuters said sources said they had \"one was a spy at damascus airport and the other worked on a flight plane \". According to two Iraqi security officials interviewed, the two employees of the Tatar wing are currently being investigated by Syrian intelligence agencies.
Two suspected Baghdad airport security personnel are now under investigation by Iraq's national security agency. One of the Iraqi security officials said the two airport security officers belonged to the \"facility maintenance service\" of paramilitary forces serving the Iraqi government.
In addition, reuters said investigators from iraq's national security agency had \"clear indications\" that the \"network of spies in baghdad airport\" was suspected of leaking sensitive details related to the arrival of sulaimani to the united states. Investigators believe the four unarrested informants are working for a larger group of people who \"provide information\" to the U.S. military.
During the \"decapitating operation,\" the u.s. was able to pinpoint mr. suleymani's position and use a drone rocket to blow up his car as he arrived in baghdad and left the airport escorted by two armed vehicles.
Also killed were Abu Mahdi Muhammadis, deputy commander of the Iraqi Shiite militia, the People's Mobilization Group (PMF), who met with Suleimani at the airport in Baghdad.
Iraq's investigation into the attack was led by Farihal-Fayadh, Iraq's national security adviser and chairman of the People's Mobilization Organization (PMF).
Reuters added that the People's Mobilization Group has cooperated with most of Iraq's Shiite militias, which are mostly backed by Iran and maintain close ties with Suleimani.
U.S., Syrian and Iraqi parties have not publicly commented on the ongoing \"spy\" investigation by Iraq's national security agencies, according to Reuters.
Some u. s.officials who requested anonymity told reuters that the u. s.has been closely following mr. sulimani's actions for days before the attack, but declined to say how the military located him on the night of the attack.
In addition, the syrian intelligence service did not comment on the investigation of two \"tatar wing\" aviation employees, nor did the media office of iraqi national security agencies and the united nations mission in new york of iraq comment on the investigation of two security personnel at baghdad airport.
A spokesman for Iraq's Civil Aviation Authority, which operates domestic flights, also declined to comment on the investigation, claiming that it was \"customary\" to deal with \"high-level official matters \".
Prior to the attack, senior iranian general surimani arrived at damascus airport in a car \"wearing black sunglasses\" with four revolutionary guard soldiers, reuters reported. Suleimani's vehicle was parked on the side of the gangway of the Airbus A320, which leads to the Air Tartan Wing, to Baghdad, Iraq.
Although Suleimani and the accompanying soldiers left on a passenger plane from Damascus, they were not registered passengers on the flight's passenger list, according to AirTarts employees. Iraqi security sources familiar with the security arrangements for Suleimani told Reuters he did not choose to fly on his private plane for personal reasons.
Two Baghdad airport officials said security camera records showed Suleimani's plane landed at Baghdad airport about 12:30 a.m. on Jan. General suleimani and his bodyguards walked straight down the gangway to the tarmac after leaving the plane, omitting the \"customs \". Airport officials said Mr. Muhandis met with Mr. Suleimani outside the plane before they entered a waiting armed vehicle. Soldiers guarding General Suleimani squeezed into another armed SUV.
Airport officials said the two vehicles were moving along the main road away from the airport under the \"watchful eye of airport security officers.\" At 12:55 a.m., the first two U.S. rockets hit the car in which Suleimani and Muhandis were travelling. Seconds later, the SUV the guards were travelling in was also hit.
Two iraqi security officials told reuters that a few minutes after the u.s. attack on january 3rd, iraq began investigating the attack. Iraqi national security agencies have blocked the Baghdad airport to prevent dozens of \"security personnel \", including police, customs officials and intelligence agents, from leaving the airport.
A few hours after the attack, investigators searched all the calls and text messages from the night shift staff at baghdad airport, trying to find out who had informed the u. s. about the whereabouts of sulaimani. According to the source, Iraq's national security agencies conducted hours-long interrogations of airport security personnel and employees of the \"tartan wing \".
For hours, security agents had been grilling the employee about who he had spoken to before his plane landed, texting - including any \"strange requests\" related to flights to Damascus - and confiscating his phone.