Kurdish counterterrorism units report claims aided killing Iranian top general unaffiliated with KRG forces: Statement

The Kurdistan Region's official counterterrorism agency rejected any affiliation with Kurdish units an investigative report claimed had aided US forces in early 2020 to assassinate Iranian top general Qasim Soleimani.
The aftermath of the US airstrike, Jan 3, 2020. (Photo: Archive)
The aftermath of the US airstrike, Jan 3, 2020. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region Directorate General of Counter Terrorism (CTD) on Sunday rejected any affiliation with Sulaimani-based counterterrorism units that an investigative report a day earlier claimed had aided US forces to kill Iranian top general Qasim Soleimani in Iraq in 2020.

The CTD operates under the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC), which was established in 2011 under Law 4 of 2011 passed by the Kurdistan Parliament, and is the official counter-terrorism agency of the region.

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG), affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), on Sunday denied any involvement in the US assassination of Soleimani, who, it noted, was a “close friend” of the PUK’s late leader Mam Jalal Talabani.

The Kurdistan Region’s CTD said in a statement that it has “no connection” with the CTG and was not aware of the operation. The group, it added, “is affiliated with Lahur Sheikh Jangi and his brothers.” Sheikh Jangi is the sitting Co-President of the PUK.

The statement added that PUK-affiliated forces “do not comply with the laws of the Kurdistan Region and its institutions.” It also recommended the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) “conduct a serious investigation” into the allegations.

A US drone in the early hours of Jan. 3, 2020, struck a convoy near Baghdad International Airport, killing Soleimani, long-time head of the Quds Force, the paramilitary arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy leader of the Hashd al-Shaabi (or Popular Mobilization Forces, the umbrella group of Iran-backed militias in Iraq), and founder of the Kataib Hezbollah militia.

In the investigative report, written by Jack Murphy and Zach Dorfman, titled “'Conspiracy is hard': Inside the Trump administration's secret plan to kill Qaimm Soleimani,” the authors write about details of the operation, including the “intimate” involvement of the PUK's elite “Counter-terrorism Group (CTG) in the assassination.”

The article “is based on interviews with 15 current and former US officials,” according to its authors.

It explains that one contribution of the CTG to the mission was helping American special forces to identify the two targets Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Muhandis – after they stepped out their plane, which had carried them from the Syrian capital to Baghdad.

Editing by Khrush Najari