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Qasem Soleimani was behind killings of thousands in Iraq, Syria in the name of fighting Daesh

At a meeting in Moscow in July 2015, Soleimani unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his Russian hosts

Friday January 3, 2020 3:58 PM, ummid.com with inputs from Agencies

About Qasem Soleimani

Baghdad: Maj Gen Qasem Soleimani, the chief of Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force who was killed in US airstrike Friday was responsible for the massacre of thousands in Syria and Iraq in the name of fighting Daesh or IS - the notorious terror group.

A staunch supporter of Syria's Bashar al Assad, Qasem Soleimani, was also responsible for the deaths of civilians, including women and children and their mass exodus from Iraq and Syria back in 2011-16.

The Pentagon said that Gen Soleimani and his Quds Force “were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more”.

Born on 11 March 1957, Qasem Soleimani became head of the Quds Force in 1998 and kept a low profile for years while he strengthened Iran's ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria's Assad and Shia militia groups in Iraq.

Qasem Soleimani joined the Revolutionary war Guard (IRGC) in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, which saw the Shah fall and Ayatollah Khomeini take power. Reportedly, his training was minimal, but he advanced rapidly. Early in his career as a guardsman, he was stationed in northwestern Iran, and participated in the suppression of a Kurdish separatist uprising in West Azerbaijan Province.

On 22 September 1980, when Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Iran, setting off the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), Soleimani joined the battlefield serving as the leader of a military company, consisting of men from Kerman whom he personally assembled and trained.

To his fans and enemies alike, Soleimani was the key architect of Iran's regional influence, leading the fight against terrorists and extending Iran's diplomatic heft in Iraq, Syria and beyond.

"To Middle Eastern Shiites, he is James Bond, Erwin Rommel and Lady Gaga rolled into one," wrote former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack in a profile for Time's 100 most influential people in 2017, according to AFP.

"To the West, he is... responsible for exporting Iran's Islamic revolution, supporting terrorists, subverting pro-Western governments and waging Iran's foreign wars," Pollack added.

According to Reuters, at a meeting in Moscow in July 2015, Soleimani unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his Russian hosts how a series of defeats for President Bashar al-Assad could be turned into victory—with Russia's help. Qasem Soleimani's visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian–Russian alliance in support of the Syrian (and Iraqi) governments.

Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei also sent a senior envoy to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin. "Putin reportedly told the envoy 'Okay we will intervene. Send Qassem Soleimani'. Gen. Soleimani went to Moscow to explain the map of the theatre and coordinate the strategic escalation of military forces in Syria.

Soleimani was rumoured to be dead on several occasions, including in a 2006 aircraft crash that killed other military officials in northwestern Iran and following a 2012 bombing in Damascus that killed top aides of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In November 2015, rumours circulated that Soleimani was killed or seriously wounded leading forces loyal to Assad as they fought around Syria's Aleppo.

There have been repeated air attacks on Quds bases in Syria and in August Israel accused the force of planning "killer drone attacks" and said its air raid showed Tehran that its forces were vulnerable anywhere.

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