Qods Force commander Soleimani reportedly spotted in Anbar province

Soleimani-Anbar


Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani (center, with black hat) posing for a picture in Anbar province, Iraq.

Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commanding officer of Qods Force, the special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, has reportedly been photographed in Iraq’s Anbar province alongside Shiite militiamen. Additionlly, Soleimani was photographed with the head of the Popular Mobilization Committee, who is listed by the US as a terrorist, and the leader of the Imam Ali Brigade, an Iranian-backed Shiite terror group.

The photographs of Soleimani in Anbar and Baghdad were published by Haidar Sumeri, an Iraqi who is supportive of Soleimani and the Iranian-suported Shiite militias that make up the Popular Mobilization Committee.

The Long War Journal cannot independently verify the authenticity of the photographs. However, US military and intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal that Soleimani was in Iraq visiting with Shiite militias and commanders over the past several days.

In one grainy photograph, which is said to be from Iraq’s Anbar province, Soleimani is photographed in the desert with a group of Iraqis dressed in military fatigues (above). In another photograph (below), Soleimani is standing outside of a Toyota Hi-Lux reviewing a map with other men. The faces of the men are blurred.

Soleimani was also photographed in Baghdad with Popular Mobilization Committee chief Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, and Imam Ali Brigade leader Shebl al Zaydi (below).

Muhandis is a former commander in the Badr Organization who was listed by the US government as Specially Designated Global Terrorist in July 2009. The US government described Muhandis, whose real name is Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, as “an advisor to Qassem Soleimani.” In addition to leading the Popular Mobilization Committee, Muhandis also is said to direct operations for the Imam Ali Brigades, well as command the Hezbollah Brigades, a US-listed Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Zaydi, a former commander in Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army, is the secretary-general of the Imam Ali Brigade. He has been photographed meeting with Soleimani in the past.

Soleimani is likely meeting with Muhandis and Zaydi to coordinate the militias’ operations in Anbar province, and specifically the counterattack against the Islamic State in Ramadi. Beleaguered Iraqi forces were routed in Ramadi on May 17, forcing Prime Minister Haider al Abadi to turn to the militias to retake the provincial capital.

The Qods Force commander has been spotted on other battlefronts in Iraq where the Shiite militias have taken the lead, including in Tikrit, Samarra, and Jurf al Sakhar.

Soleimani’s visit to Anbar, if confirmed, isn’t the first by an Iranian military officer. Jassem Nouri, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps military commander, was killed in the Iraqi province on May 28, presumably while advising Iraqi forces and the Shiite militias. [See LWJ report, Iranian military commander killed fighting in Ramadi.]

Soleimani’s meeting with militia commanders and battlefield visit in Anbar, Nouri’s death in Ramadi, and the participation of Hezbollah Brigades and the Imam Ali Brigade in the fighting near Ramadi contradicts claims by senior US officials that the Iranian-backed militias, or the so-called “extremist elements,” are not involved in the fighting in Anbar. In an interview with CBS News on May 29, General (retired) John Allen, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIL, or the Islamic State, claimed that the militias in the Popular Mobilization Committee “have been subordinated to the Iraqi higher military campaign or command” and are not associated with Iran.

“So the fact that militias are involved and tribes are involved in this part of the campaign, this part of the implementation of supporting Iraq ultimately to recover the country, should not alarm us,” Allen insisted.

The US military launched three airstrikes near Ramadi and Fallujah, where the Iranian-backed militias are operating, over the previous 24 hours.

Qods Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad with Popular Mobilization Committee chief Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Imam Ali Brigade leader Shebl al Zaydi:

Soleimani-Muhandis-Zaydi-Baghdad

Soleimani in Anbar province:

Soleimani-Anbar2

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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11 Comments

  • mike merlo says:

    how quaint, Iran’s General Giggles is out & about in the public’s ‘eye’ again doin his diva terrorist rock star ‘thing.’ Am lookin forward to an ISIS/ISIL sniper shootin this degenerate in his spine somewhere so he spends the rest of his life livin it out as a cripple. If that happens I’ll be more than pleased to sponsor his Wounded Warrior wheel chair

  • James says:

    I say again that clearly the lesser of the 2 evils is Iran. It’s better that they be over there killing each other rather than killing our soldiers. If and when they have cleared those areas of the ISIS thugs, we can then deal appropriately with Iran.

    What Afghanistan turned out to be for the former Soviet Union, Iraq may turn out to be for Iran. It may very well deteriorate into a Vietnam for Iran. In the meantime, what do we have to lose? In fact, we have everything to gain.

    At least the Iranians have the kahunas to go toe-to-toe with those ISIS thugs.

  • Verneoz says:

    “So the fact that militias are involved and tribes are involved in this part of the campaign, this part of the implementation of supporting Iraq ultimately to recover the country, should not alarm us,” Allen insisted. Gen. Allen is carrying the water for Obama’s feckless ISIS strategy that is token at best. The Quds force zealots are the cream of the crop carrying out Iran’s goal of expanding its power and influence over the Persian Gulf region. This is going to drop into the next US President’s lap as a major military confrontation with Iran.

  • Oberron says:

    He sure gets around. What’s next? He shows up at the White House, US Congress begging them to give Iraq another 150 M1A1s which get blown up by IS, more humvees, more air strikes?

    At what point do we say screw it, bolster internal security and just accept a 9/11 event as just a pin prick we retaliate with a proportionate air strike upon the perpetrators and call it a day like Clinton did though he could have easily ended AQ in 96 if he had told Sudan to turn him over or took the Taliban Offer to turn him over. Apparently going to war isn’t a solution as we lose at the strategic level and wind up wrecking our economy for no gain. We’ll run out of money long before IS runs out of SVBIEDs. That and everything we send just winds up in their hands anyway if Iran doesn’t grab them first via its militia proxies.

    Its time to have a frank public discussion over whether it is worth American lives to prop up corrupt dictators just because they have oil and be involved in a millennia old dispute because musty old tomes say so and so was right. And if the answer is yes, then we get a draft out, tax the hell out of corporations, sack the generals for those who get results, and go all in and win strategically. If not, we pull completely out, and let the regional actors reap what they sowed (IE: Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, et al) without any help from us as they all are doing their utmost to stab us in the fricken back.

    In short we need strategic leadership to win the war, not tactical leadership to win battles but lose the war. Obama and the US Generals aren’t providing it and no one else in DC is showing the leadership to be frank with the American Public about what this war will really cost or need.

    • RT says:

      We have not had the sort of leadership you are talking about since WWII. Obama appears to be a bad leader on the national front, but for most Americans his leadership seems to be working. And what I mean by that, is Americans are not dying on a daily basis, and that is all that matters to many Americans. So many Americans are isolationists or simply don’t care about anything except when does the next sports game start, and so they don’t care what happens in Iraqi. These are of course the same people that voted for Obama. I’m sure he had some well informed voters as well, but I don’t feel I know any personally.

      In my opinion, Obama knows his strategy is not working, but he would have to admit his pull out was a disaster and he is not going to do that. I believe his new strategy is now the time honored strategy of stall until the next president is in office. If he can keep Isis in check with drone strikes and airstrikes just long enough for him to get out of office, then Isis will be the next guy’s problem.

      However, here is the problem, Isis may not wait for him to leave office. Nothing in the news has convinced me that we are not on the verge of seeing a massive collapse either on the Syrian side on the Iraqi side, because neither of them (Syrian or Iraqi) appear up to the task of dealing with an enemy that is this determined.

    • cessch says:

      brother you forgot one thing, you say we shouldnt fight just for the oil. truth is we didnt get the oil b4. china did. they sit back and wait for us to do the fighting as i n iraq and afghanistan, and when we get tired and go home they move in to get a majority of the contracts. that was going on in iraq b4 IS started their thing last year. and do you think they are building roads n ports in pakistan for nothing? of course not they are doing it to move the minerals out of afghanistan. they have won several mining concessions. the chinese are way better at business then the americans. they sell us products and then lend the money back to us to buy more at the same time we fight to make resource rich lands safe for their comapanies to move in and reap the resources. silly americans.

      • mike merlo says:

        @ cessch

        another tired anti-American trope. During the 70’s it was Arab Oil, in the 80’s it was Japanese Economic prowess, in the 90’s the rise of a New World Order & prior to the 90’s ‘bookended’ by WWII it was Communism & on & on it goes.

        Please wake me from my Cryonic Hibernation a few Centuries from now when ‘all things’ Communist China come to fruition. Till then its not worth the paper USA IOU’s are printed on

  • Sam Gelbart says:

    Soleimani prances around with impunity. His success in Iraq and Syria would not be in the interest of the US> He needs to be taken out.

  • Some Guy says:

    Soleimani the shadow commander posed for a photo op in a US base in the green zone in Iraq right under the nose of US command in the background in the height of the Iraq war.

    In under 3 months he has taken more than 40% of Iraq from ISIS while the US couldn’t do squat.

    • mike merlo says:

      @ Some Guy

      Exactly what parts of Iraq has Soleimani “taken” from ISIS/ISIL?

  • zerka parkash says:

    exactly Suleimani is doing the best work . he is fighting against the worst people of the world (ISIS) . why america is not supporting anti ISIS fighters
    because they are supporting ISIS . In this modern world how is possible that they are dropping weapons mistakenly to ISIS. More than 3 time they give weapons to ISIS mistakenly . wow USA you are great.

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