The commander of the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Tuesday that Israel came very close to killing him and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during the Second Lebanon War.
In a rare interview, Qassem Soleimani - who was in Beirut at the time of the 34-day conflict - recalled that one night he and Hezbollah's second-in-command Imad Mughniyeh went outside and were spotted by Israeli surveillance drones.
Israeli spy planes were "constantly" flying over the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiyeh, a neighborhood of Beirut, with Jerusalem “watching every movement” on the ground, said Soleimani.
That's when the Iranian made the decision to evacuate their position and escort Nasrallah to a second building. Moments later, Soleimani recounts, Israeli forces unleashed two bombardments nearby.
“We were feeling that these two bombings were about to be followed by a third one … so we decided to get out of that building. We didn’t have a car, and there was complete silence, just the Israeli regime aircraft flying over Dahiyeh,” he recounted.
After helping Nasrallah escape from Israeli tracking systems through a series of evasive maneuvers, Soleimani claims to have returned along with Mughniyeh to the command center.
Mughniyeh was killed in Damascus, Syria in 2008, in a car bombing widely attributed to Israel.
Soleimani added that he spent the entire length of the war in Lebanon, reporting to Tehran on a daily basis and was in constant contact with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.