Major General Qassem Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s intelligence and military operations abroad, was hailed as a hero at home and closely watched by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The commander of the elite Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in a US air strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport.
Maj Gen Soleimani, 62, was a major figure of Iran’s regime and had been spearheading the country’s growing military influence in the Middle East.
The US believes he was behind attack on US forces in the region for the past two decades. Last year, it designated the Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organisation.
In 2018, Soleimani was seen in a video clip warning the US president: “I’m telling you Mr Trump the gambler, I’m telling you, know that we are close to you in that place you don’t think we are. You will start the war but we will end it.”
In recent years Soleimani deployed his forces in Syria’s war to support President Bashar al Assad. He was also seen on battlefields, guiding Iraqi Shia groups in the war against Islamic State.
Image: Maj Gen Soleimani was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad airport
Here are some of the main details of his life and career:
Soleimani was born into an agricultural family in the town of Rabor in southeast Iran on 11 March 1957
Initially he worked in construction and for a municipal water department
When the revolution to oust the Shah of Iran began in 1978, Soleimani organised demonstrations against the monarch
He volunteered for the Revolutionary Guards and quickly rose through the ranks after war with Iraq broke out in 1980
He was said to be a “great listener” who did not “impose himself”, according to an Iranian official, who added: “But he always gets what he wants”
He became head of the Quds Force in 1998
In 2007, at the height of the civil war between Sunni and Shia militants in Iraq, the US military accused Soleimani’s Quds Force of supplying improvised explosive devices to Shia fighters, leading to the deaths of many American soldiers
According to diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks, the overall head of US forces in Iraq at the time, General David Petraeus, sent messages to Soleimani through Iraqi officials
In summer 2015 he visited Moscow – said to be the first step in planning for Russia’s military intervention that reshaped the Syrian civil war
The US Treasury sanctioned him for the Quds Force’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and other armed groups, and for his role in Syria’s crackdown against protesters
Soleimani is alleged to have been involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, awarded him the Order of Zolfiqar medal, Iran’s highest military honour, last year
A former senior Iraqi official said Soleimani’s “chain of command is only the Supreme Leader”
Source : Sky News