Born In: Ghanat Malek, Iran
Qasem Soleimani, one of Iran’s most powerful men, was the head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The force is an elite unit, specialising in unconventional warfare and military intelligence operations and handles Iran's covert operations in foreign countries. As the head of the force, he was reported to have carried out numerous operations in countries like Iraq and Syria to crush rebel groups. He also supported groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Palestine's Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Houthis of Yemen and Shia militias in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. He was killed in a drone strike by the Americans in Iraq at the Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020. The strike was ordered by the US President Donald Trump. The US Defence Department maintained that he had to be taken out as he was plotting to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and the Middle East. The US also holds him responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans over the years and considers the Quds Force as terror unit. Known as the ‘shadow commander’, Qasem Soleimani was hailed as a hero in his country and was revered both by the Iranian soldiers and the general masses. However, some say that he was also one of the most feared persons in Iran.
Died At Age: 65
father: Hassan Soleimani
mother: Fatemeh Soleimani
children: Mohammadreza Soleimani, Zeinab Soleimani
Born Country: Iran (islamic Republic Of)
place of death: Baghdad, Iraq
Cause of Death: Assassination
Qasem Soleimani was born on 11 March 1957, in Qanat-e Malek village in Iran’s Kerman Province.
After finishing school, he initially started working at a construction site in Kerman and later joined the Kerman Water Organisation as a contractor in 1975.
He eventually joined the Revolutionary Guard in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution, wherein the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was replaced with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In his early days in the army, he participated in the suppression of the Kurdish separatist uprising in West Azerbaijan Province in north-west Iran.
Qasem Soleimani’s big moment came when he joined the war against Iraq in 1980. Iraq launched a full-scale invasion of Iran on September 22, 1980 and the war lasted from 1980 to 1988.
He initially led a military company and rose through the ranks in quick time after series of successful operations to regain the lands occupied by Iraq. Subsequently, he became the commander of the 41st Tharallah Division while still in his 20s.
After the Iraq-Iran war ended, he is said to have led a successful fight in the 1990s against drug trafficking taking place from Afghanistan to Turkey and Europe. He was an IRGC commander in Kerman Province at that time.
He was one of the vociferous voices from the military’s side in demanding the suppression of the 1999 student revolt in Tehran and played a significant role in suppressing the Iranian Green Movement in 2009.
After he became the commander of the Quds Force in 1998, Qasem Soleimani initially worked with the United States to crush Taliban in Afghanistan.
Post the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US by Al Qaeda, the American and Iranians collaborated in air bombing operations in Afghanistan and also in capturing key Al Qaeda operatives. But the joint operations ended in January 2002 when the then US President George W Bush called Iran as part of the ‘axis of evil’.
Qassem Soleimani is credited as being the architect of an arc of influence, termed as the ‘Axis of Resistance’ by Iran. It included Gulf of Oman, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and extended to the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. He was appointed as Major General by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in January 2011.
He was a strong supporter of the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad during the civil war there. He is reported to have been involved in planning and carrying out several operations inside Syria to curb the rebels and fight the Islamic State (IS) or the Daesh.
He was instrumental in convincing Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene in Syria. The recapturing of important military bases and many key towns and villages from the rebels and the Islamic State in southern Aleppo by the Syrian government is said to have been personally planned and led by Qasem Soleimani.
The three-year siege of Nubl and Al-Zahraa was broken in 2016 by the Syrian Army’s 4th Mechanised Division, with the help of the Syrian air force and backed by Russia, Quds Force, Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, Iraqi Shia paramilitary group called the Hezbollah Brigade and another Iraqi Shia group called the Harakat Hezbollah al- Nujaba.
He also played an important role in Iran's fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and brought together the Kurdish and Shia forces to take them on.
The Quds Force played a vital role in liberating Amirli (or Amerli), Jurf al-Nasr (formerly known as Jurf al-Sakhar), Tikrit and other cities and areas of Iraq from the stranglehold of the Islamic State.
It was reported in 2018 that he was directly involved in high-level talks to form the government in Iraq.
Qasem Soleimani was assassinated on January 3, 2020 in Iraq in an American drone strike. The strike was ordered by the Trump administration on the premise that he was planning ‘imminent’ attacks on Americans and had to be stopped.
There are those who refute the official line. They say that his past actions, which may have led to the killing of Americans in Iraq and the Middle East, were probably the basis on which the Pentagon eliminated him.
The targeting of Qasem Soleimani was not approved by the US Congress. It was also not acquiesced to by the Iraqi government. This led to questions being asked as to whether it was legal to kill Iranian army personnel over Iraqi airspace.
Iran called the strike an ‘act of international terrorism’ and a strategic blunder by the US in the West Asia region. It also said that America would be held responsible for its ‘criminal adventurism’.
A funeral procession was held for Qasem Soleimani in Iraq’s capital Baghdad on January 4, 2020, with thousands attending it, including Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. His remains were taken to the holy Shia cities of Karbala and Najaf.
His remains arrived in the Iranian cities of Ahvaz and Mashhad on January 5, 2020, with tens of thousands mourning his demise. His body reached Tehran, the capital of Iran, on January 6, 2020. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to pay tribute to him and bid him farewell.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei led the traditional Islamic prayer for him. The Iranian government posthumously promoted him to the rank of Lieutenant General.
Qasem Soleimani had four children, two daughters and two sons. Another son, born late in his life, is said to have died due to some disease. Very little is known of his wife.
His daughter Zeinab Soleimani, who is his youngest child, came into the limelight when she delivered an intense speech at his memorial in Tehran on January 6, 2020. Virtually unknown before that, she openly called for avenging her father’s blood and warned retaliation on American soldiers.
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