Martyr General Qasem Soleimani was born in the village of Qanat-e Malek of the Iranian city of Rabor of Kerman Province on March 11, 1957. Coming from a relatively poor agriculturist family, the young Soleimani moved to the city of Kerman at the age of 11, after completing his elementary school, to continue with his high school studies and simultaneously work as a construction worker in order to be able to repay his father’s debt. After completing his high school Soleimani joined the water works organization of Kerman as a contractor in the year 1975.
In the course of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, he came to know a cleric from the city of Mashhad by the name of Reza Kamyab, a student of the late Imam Khomeini (RA), who introduced him to the essence of the Islamic Revolution. According to his brother, Sohrab Soleimani, he soon became one of the main organizers of the anti-regime demonstrations in Kerman.
After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and while working as a contractor for the waterworks organization of Kerman, Martyr Soleimani joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as an honorary member. Before the Iraqi imposed war he got himself posted to Eastern Iran to join the struggle against the turmoil caused by certain Iranian Kurds. Following the end of the rebellion, he returned to Kerman and was appointed as the commander of the Quds IRGC headquarters in that city.
Early in his career as a revolutionary guard and after the suppression of a separatist rebellion by some Kurdish elements he was appointed as the commander of the IRGC headquarters of West Azerbaijan Province.
Following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran on September 22, 1980, marking the beginning of the imposed war on Iran (1980–1988), Qasem Soleimani assembled and trained several battalions in Kerman with whom he joined the battlefield in southern Iran serving as the commander of the 41st Division. During eight years of sacred defense war with Iraq, he was the commander of IRGC divisions Nasr-5 and Imam Reza-21, respectively. In his early 20s, he joined IRGC and served in different divisions and left behind invaluable memorials with his comrades, and finally became commander of the Nasr-5 division to prove his capability and qualifications as a vigilant commander. He always remained committed to the principles of the Islamic Revolution and spared no efforts to materialize the aspiration of the revolution. The devoted commander also played a significant role in many military operations and brought triumphs to the Iranian side.
In the course of the Iraqi-imposed war, he quickly earned a reputation for bravery and rose through the ranks because of his role in the successful operations in recapturing the lands Iraqi troops had occupied. In early 1982, Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaei, Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Guards, appointed Sardar Qasem Soleimani as commander of the Sarallah Brigade while he was still in his 20s.
After the war came to an end in 1988, Sardar Qasem Soleimani returned to Kerman and became involved in a war with miscreants who were instigated and directed from outside the Eastern borders of Iran. Prior to his appointment as the commander of the Quds Force, he fought drug trafficking gangs, which smuggled opium from Afghanistan to Turkey and then Europe through Iran.
General Soleimani was appointed as the commander of the Quds Force by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in the year 2000. As a result of his leadership, the Quds Force helped strengthen the struggles of the Palestinian resistance. As a matter of fact, it was Sardar Soleimani’s activities alongside Martyr Imad Mughniyeh, which made the resistance so strong that the Zionist regime failed to achieve its goals with regard to Palestine as well as Lebanon. It was due to the military advice provided by General Soleimani that the Hezbollah of Lebanon could withstand the Israeli invasion in the year 2006, which came to be known as “The 33 Days War” resulting in Israel’s defeat in achieving its objectives of invading Lebanon.
War on ISIS in Iraq
With the emergence of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (ISIS), a fundamentalist, Salafi terrorist group, which committed a large number of crimes in the name of Islam, and its rise in different parts of Iraq and widespread occupation of Iraqi territory the Iraqi government asked for help from General Qasem Soleimani who played a significant role in Iraq’s fight against ISIS, and his expert military advice provided resulted in the release of Baghdad and Erbil from the clutches of this terrorist group. Sardar Soleimani was described as the “linchpin” bringing together Kurdish and Shia forces to fight ISIS, overseeing joint operations conducted by the two groups. As per existing evidence, General Qasem Soleimani was in the Iraqi city of Amirli, which had been under siege for quite some time, and proved to be the first Iraqi town to successfully withstand an ISIS invasion through the expertise provided by him. The defeat faced by ISIS was the outcome of an unusual partnership of Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers, which had come about through the efforts made and advice by General Soleimani.
In 2012, Major General Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government during the Syrian Civil War, particularly in its operations against ISIS and its offshoots.
On Thursday, September 21, 2017, on the 40th-day ceremony of the Martyrdom of one of the defenders of the shrine, Sardar Qasem Soleimani made an important announcement that the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will come to an end in less than three months, a prediction that came true within the period specified by this Iranian general.
In the operation to liberate Jurf Al Sakhar, he was reportedly “present on the battlefield”. Some Shia militia commanders described General Soleimani as “fearless”— one pointing out that the Iranian general never wears a flak jacket, even on the front lines. Hadi al-Amiri, the former Iraqi minister of transportation and the head of the Badr Organization, an official Iraqi political party whose military wing is one of the largest armed forces in the country, highlighted the pivotal role of General Qasem Soleimani in defending Iraq’s Kurdistan Region against the ISIS terrorist group, maintaining that if it were not for the efforts made and advice provided by General Soleimani, Heidar al-Ebadi’s government would have been a government-in-exile by then and that there would be no Iraq if General Soleimani had not helped us.
Serving at Imam Reza’s (as) Shrine
At his request, General Soleimani was also given the honor of serving the pilgrims to the holy shrine of Imam Reza (as), the eighth Shiite Imam, in the city of Mashhad since the year 2014.
Soleimani received the Order of Zolfaghar, which is Iran’s highest military insignia in Iran, from the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US airstrike ordered by Donald Trump at Baghdad International Airport on Friday, January 3, 2020, was hailed as a hero in Iran. He was a brave, charismatic, and beloved commander for his troops.
Known as a shadow commander for his indirect war against the US, he was on the US hit list for long. The Zionist Regime and Saudi Arabia were also allegedly working to eliminate Soleimani for his sacred services in Syria and Lebanon.
In one of his interviews, he said the US and Zionist Regime are much weaker to compete with Iran’s military might which backs oppressed Palestinians and people in Gaza. Over a year before his martyrdom, Soleimani had even warned US President Donald Trump of escalating war with Iran by stating: “You may start a war (with us) but it will be us who will end it”.
In his message of condolence for the Martyrdom of Major General Qasem Soleimani, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei referred to him as the “living martyr of the revolution”. He was head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, an elite unit that handles Iran’s overseas operations. Having started his front-line military career in the Iran-Iraq war during the early 1980s, Soleimani rose to prominence to become an indispensable figure in Iran, playing an instrumental role in spreading its influence in the Middle East.
Several funeral ceremonies were held for Major General Qasem Soleimani from 4 to 7 January 2020 in some cities in Iraq and Iran – including Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf, Ahvaz, Mashhad, Tehran, Qom, and his hometown Kerman. Owing to his popularity among the people of Iran, the funeral ceremony of Soleimani in Tehran was the largest in Iran since the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Imam Khomeini”, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in 1989.
Produced by the Cultural Centre of the
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Harare.