Tensions between US and Iran entered uncharted territory following the killing of top Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Iraq, with experts fearing the incident could trigger a conflict. While the Pentagon said that the attack was carried out on the "direction of President" Donald Trump, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "severe revenge awaits the criminals" behind the attack.
Soleimani, 62 rose steadily through the ranks of the Iranian military until he was named in 1998 the head of al-Quds Force, the most elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Force (IRGC). He was considered the second most powerful leader after Ayatollah Khamenei and on his own watch, the al-Quds Force was linked to killings and assasination attempts in countries ranging from Syria and Lebanon to Germany, and even India.
Following a bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat's vehicle in the Indian capital in February 2012, Delhi police came on the conclusion the suspects involved in the unsucessful assault were members of IRGC, media reports said at the time. The bombings occoured at the same time as other attacks linked to the IRGC in Bangkok, Thailand, and Tbilisi, Georgia.
Who is Quassem Soleimani?
Major-General Qassem Soleimani was the top commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
He was very close to Ayatollah Ali Khameini and seen as a potential future leader of the country.
Soleimani who took command of Quds Force in 1998, was responsible for clandestine overseas operations and was seen on the battlefields guiding Iraqi Shia groups against ISIS.
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