Qassem Soleimani spotted in Iraq’s KRG territory

Qassem Soleimani in Iraq's KRG area, Oct. 23.

Qassem Soleimani in Iraq’s KRG, Oct. 23.

Somewhere in Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) territory, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani – the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) – visited the family of Hussein Mansour yesterday. Mansour was a senior Kurdish Peshmarga commander killed by the Islamic State last year.

The visit marked the first confirmed sighting of Soleimani in Iraq since Iraqi forces – backed by Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite militias, as well as US airpower – launched operations to retake Mosul from the Islamic State last week. It is not known where exactly Soleimani met with Mansour’s family. Iranian media published a photo of Soleimani on Oct. 17 alongside Iraqi Shiite militia commanders purportedly near Mosul last week, though the veracity of that photograph had not been confirmed. In August, a spokesman for the IRGC-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) told the media that Soleimani was expected to play a major role in Mosul.

“Your father was one of my comrades,” Soleimani told the son of the deceased commander. “We shared the trench most of the time in the wars surrounding Mosul. I was very saddened when I heard the news of his death.”

When Mansour was asked about Iranian support of the peshmarga in Sept. 2014, he said, “It makes sense. [The Islamic State] is a threat to the United States and the West, but even more so to Iran. It’s closer. It’s only natural that they would want to prevent it from getting any more powerful than it already is.”

Tehran has cultivated relationships in Iraqi Kurdistan for the past several decades, and today backs the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two ruling parties in the KRG. Iran has also been actively providing support and military advisers to Peshmerga forces since the Islamic State expanded into Iraq in 2014.

Qassem Soleimani with Iraqi Shiite militia commanders including his deputy Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, right.

Qassem Soleimani with Iraqi Shiite militia commanders including his deputy Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, right.

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

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8 Comments

  • Mikey3d says:

    The US needs to eliminate this dude at the first opportunity. If he’s in “kurdistan”, he is extremely vulnerable. Get it done!

    • Ray says:

      Do it if you can!

    • Will says:

      The US could not handle the blow back thay would come from a move like that. Not to mention that unfortunately the IRGC has backed most of the more effective éléments fighting IS which for now aligns with US interests

    • Mike120 says:

      That would be stupid, and anyway he is likely as safe in the PUK part of Kurdistan as he would be in Iran. He is a very talented General in that neck of the woods where sadly the majority of Saddam’s experienced military officers went to IS because of that idiot Nouri al-Maliki that the US left in charge.

    • Mr.T says:

      So fighting ISIS is not a priority. As far as we can see Iranian led forces are the most effective of any in Iraq , they actualy stopped ISIS advance on Bagdad while US trained Iraqi army fleed in panic.

  • etudiant says:

    Maybe so, but if he is leading the charge against ISIS, is he not on our side?
    Or is ISIS now considered a US friendly entity?

  • den says:

    There was administration personnel on the ground at this time. It has to be difficult for our military to be playing on this team. Watching and knowing where he is, American blood is all over this guy!

  • Mike120 says:

    The Peshmerga that are fighting in this gig are the KDP Peshmerga who work for Barzani. The Shia militias are aligned with and pretty much commanded by Soleimani, who is a brilliant strategist and tactician. He is also very tight with the PUK Peshmerga who work for Talabani. The Kurds sided with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war which is why Saddam hated them. The Peshmerga and the Shia militias are the absolute best fighting forces in this conflict and have no need for Mosul. They really won’t waste any lives unless they have been offered a really big prize……..

Iraq

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