WASHINGTON-The US military reportedly made a failed attempt to kill a separate senior Iranian commander in Yemen the same night the Pentagon carried out the successful airstrike that took out Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last week.

U.S. military officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, now say that a military strike targeting Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Abdul Reza Shahlai was unsuccessful. Shahlai was said to be a key figure in financing the activities of the Iranian military force.

The State Department said Mr. Shahlai “has a long history of targeting Americans and U.S. allies globally,” and planned multiple assassinations of coalition forces in Iraq, the Associated Press reported. His activities were said to include providing weapons and explosives to Shia militia groups and directing a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington eight years ago.

The announcement comes as the Trump administration is vigorously defending the military necessity of the strike in the face of skepticism from Democrats and even some Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“We have seen the report of a January 2 airstrike in Yemen, which is long understood as a safe space for terrorists and other adversaries to the United States,” said Pentagon spokesperson Navy Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich in a statement to The Washington Post, which first reported the second mission. Cmdr. Rebarich declined to discuss the operation or confirm the failed strike.

In a tweet Friday afternoon, Defense Secretary Mark Esper avoided explicitly addressing reports of the failed strike, but said “I want the American people to rest assured knowing they have the best military in the world. As we defend our people and interests in the Middle East, we continue to call on Iran to de-escalate the situation and cease its malign activities throughout the region.”