Former Iraqi PM Nouri Al-Maliki said in a December 24, 2020 interview on Al-Alam TV (Iran) that there was a plot to bring down Bashar Al-Assad's regime, hatched by the United States, Israel and some Arab countries. If this were to happen, an invasion by Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda and other factions into Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan would have ensued, and Israel would also enter the picture. Al-Maliki claimed that, at the time, he said that the Iraqi army would join the fight on behalf of Bashar Al-Assad if it seemed like the Syrian regime was in danger of collapsing, in order to prevent the "turmoil in the region" from spreading. He said that IRGC Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani led the way in preventing this from happening, and this is why he was targeted by the U.S.
Nouri Al-Maliki: "There was a plot by Israel, some Arab countries, and the U.S. to bring about Syria's collapse. The fall of Dr. Bashar Al-Assad's regime in Syria would not have meant the end of the story, but only the beginning. It would have been followed by [an invasion] of Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, and all those terrorists into Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan. Then Israel would have entered the picture, and a major regional crisis would have ensued. So the stance of Hajj Qasem Soleimani, along with the mujahideen who rose up and fought in Syria... We all rose up. I am not afraid to say that we rose up and said: 'If we see that the Syrian regime might fall, we will take the Iraqi army and fight in Syria, because the fall of the regime in Damascus will spread the turmoil throughout the region.' Hajj Qasem led the way in preventing the collapse of the Syrian regime, and he played a similar role in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. So it was only natural that America would target Hajj Qasem Soleimani, because, to put it simply, he was destroying their plans."