Has Qassem Soleimani been Killed in Syria?
Two weeks ago DEBKAfile issued one of their brief daily news alerts, reporting that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Commander Qassem Soleimani had been killed near Aleppo Syria. Allegedly a rebel fired TOW missile struck Soleimani’s car killing him and three other Iranian commanders. At the time this sensational news emanated from a Syrian rebel source and only DEBKAfile reported on it, but now the story, in a modified form, is being picked up by other media outlets.
Just recently Al Arabiya has reported, based on the Persian-language opposition AsrIran website, that Soleimani was not killed in the rebel attack but did sustain serious shrapnel wounds, some to his head. The report claimed he was initially treated in Damascus and then transferred to the IRGC Baqiyatollah Hospital in Tehran where he underwent two surgeries, and remains in serious condition.
Now if we are to believe official Iranian sources then Soleimani is alive and well. According to PressTV, an english language media outlet of the Iranian government, Soleimani helped to organize the rescue mission of the surviving Russian pilot who’s Su-24 was downed by Turkish fighters, an event that took place one week after Soleimani’s alleged death or incapacitation. An IRGC Brigadier General Ramesan Sharif dismissed the reports saying “Often, the Israelis write down their dreams in the form of news and spread them through their media in the cyberspace.”
Then on Monday the Alwaght website, an english language Iranian new site, released an interview they had conducted with Soleimani, in which he was question about his alleged death, to which he replied with a laugh, “Martyrdom is what I seek in mountains and valleys but isn’t granted yet.” Now this interview and other official Iranian reports could be misinformation to cover up Soleimani’s real condition, as they have not provided any current photos and videos showing him to be alive and well.
So we are in a difficult position to ascertain the truth of the matter. We have two sides, the Syrian rebels and the Iranians, making contradictory claims. Who are we to believe? I suspect that Soleimani has been seriously wounded by Syrian rebels, as if he was not then all the Iranians would have to do to dispel these rumors would be to ‘reveal’ Soleimani to the public, which they haven’t done. Now whether or not Soleimani has in fact been killed or is in life threatening condition, I am not in a position to determine, only time will tell what is in fact going on.
But regardless of what is actually going on, the fate of Soleimani is a very important issue. This man is a very important commander for Iran, as he oversees all of their foreign operations which includes Syria, Iraq and Yemen. He appears to be a courageous, energetic and capable military leader, who’s death would be a great blow to the Revolutionary regime in Iran.
We should remember that it was Soleimani that helped to organize a viable response to ISIL in Iraq, through the use of Shiite militias, which has helped to prevent ISIL from overrunning that country. And it has been reported that it was Soleimani who during the Summer went to Moscow and briefed Russian officials on the dire state of Assad’s regime, convincing the Russians to military intervene in Syria and helping to formulate the plan of intervention (See my post A Complicated Picture in Syria and Iraq which gives a brief overview of Soleimani’s role in Russia’s Syrian intervention).
So while most in the West have no clue who Qassem Soleimani is, he is in fact a very important man on the global stage. His fate will have an significant effect on how events in the Middle East will unfold, although it is an issue not being covered greatly by the mainstream Western media. If the Syrian rebels have in fact killed Soleimani, this will be a great achievement for them and a great blow to Iran. With this in mind I recommend everyone keep following developments on the fate of Soleimani.