Soleimani, Qasem

Soleimani, Qasem, or Qassem Suleimani käˈsəm Sōləmänˈē [key], 1957–2020, Iranian general. He joined the Revolutionary Guards following the 1979 revolution and was considered a hero of the Iran-Iraq War, during which he became a divisional commander. In 1998 he became head of the Quds [Jerusalem] force, a special forces unit responsible for foreign, typically unconventional and covert, operations; it was especially active in Iraq, training and equipping the Shiite forces that came to power after the fall (2003) of Saddam Hussein. The force subsequently also was important in suppressing the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that began in 2011. Soleimani was promoted to major general in 2011, and was widely regarded as the second most powerful official in Iran. He was targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad in 2020, amid rising tensions between U.S. and Iranian-aligned forces in Iraq.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Iranian History: Biographies