The infamous leader of Iran’s Quds force flew to Moscow on Friday to discuss furthering military cooperation with Russian military and political leaders.
Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was once banned from international travel because his group trains and finances terrorism, is now free to roam the globe thanks to provisions included in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. It is the third trip the mysterious general has made since the signing of the deal. The first occurred in July of last year.
“General Soleimani traveled to Moscow last night to discuss issues including the delivery of S-300s and further military cooperation,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters Friday. Russia confirmed its first delivery of the S-300 missile defense system to Iran Tuesday; they expect to fulfill the entire contract by the end of the year.
In his last visit to Moscow, Soleimani is alleged to have met with defense minister Sergei Shoigu and even President Vladimir Putin himself. Just weeks later, Russia would begin its military intervention in Syria on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of both Russia and Iran.
Soleimani was once a mystery to both Iranians and international analysts, though his reputation has grown significantly in recent years. The once reclusive “shadow general” has been seen on social media posing with Iranian troops operating in Syria and Iraq. He even has his own theme song and music video.
As the head of the Quds force, Soleimani is responsible for all of Iran’s special and covert military operations in foreign countries, particularly Iraq and Syria. The group is believed to be responsible for training and supporting Shia terrorist groups across the Middle East, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The group is believed to have provided copper-lined improvised explosive devices to Iraqi insurgents during the U.S. occupation. Those explosives killed and wounded hundreds of U.S. military personnel. Due to their extensive terror-related activity, the Quds force is considered a terrorist sponsor by the U.S. government.
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