BBC Arabic retracted a report claiming that Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani had left for Yemen.
Citing sources “close to the general,” a BBC Arabic correspondent claimed that Soleimani was making his way to Yemen, according to a tweet posted by the news channel. However, shortly afterwards the tweet was deleted and BBC Arabic tweeted that the information is being checked and that followers will be updated shortly.
Soleimani was the most prominent Iranian military officer leading a Shiite militia offensive to eradicate Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants from the Iraqi city of Tikrit.
Soleimani and the Shiite militias he reportedly commanded in Tikrit had earlier stopped their offensive against ISIS militants, after Baghdad issued a request to the U.S. for air power and the Pentagon said it would only oblige to support Iraqi forces in recapturing the city.
Until recently, the Iraqis fought side-by-side with Shiite militias and Iranian special forces. Their withdrawal was a key condition for the American air intervention, said Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of U.S. Central Command.