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Qassem Soleimani to play “major role” in Mosul operations

Qassem Soleimani attending march in February 2016 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The spokesman of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Front (PMF) announced on August 6 that Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, will play a major role in the upcoming operations to take the city of Mosul from the Islamic State. The spokesman defended the presence of Iranian military advisors in Iraq.

According to translations of his remarks published by IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency, the spokesman called Soleimani “one of the most important military advisors” from the Islamic Republic of Iran. He added that Soleimani and other Iranian advisors are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government and that they provide important consultation.

Soleimani is rumored to have arrived in Iraq last week to prepare for the battle of Mosul with the Iraqi government forces and PMF. An unnamed Iraqi parliamentarian claimed in an Asharq al Awsat article on August 3 that Soleimani arrived without a passport and visited Mosul, Kirkuk, and the Nineveh area.

The claim about Soleimani’s presence in Iraq could not be independently verified. Iranian media publicized on August 2 details of his visit to the family of a slain senior Afghan militia commander in Iran that had taken place few weeks ago.

The Asharq article also quoted a high-ranking PMF official, Nizam Assadi, discussing Tehran’s military assistance. He affirmed that the agreement between the two governments allows for Iran to supply the PMF, Iraq’s ministries of defense and interior, and its counterterrorism agency with “weapons, advisors and trainers for the war on ISIS.”

Soleimani directs IRGC operations in the Iraqi and Syrian theaters. The IRGC has deployed elite Iraqi and Lebanese proxies to Aleppo this past week to bolster the forces of Bashar al Assad, after rebels succeeded in breaking the siege of eastern Aleppo on August 6.

Amir Toumaj :Amir Toumaj is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.