Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Quds Force, was injured a month ago in Syria in an artillery strike that hit near his convoy. The severity of his injuries is much disputed, with some reporting that he had died in the strike, but official Iranian narratives claiming that he is in “perfect” health. The National Council of Resistance – Iran (NCRI), an opposition government in exile that bases itself in Paris because its members would be killed if they returned to Iran, reports that state media promised that Suleimani would appear at a “Student Day” function — and he failed to appear.
Attempts by the antihuman Iranian regime to get Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the terrorist Quds Force, to symbolically participate in a ceremony at Iran National University [named Beheshti by the regime] to build up the morale of the revolutionary guards and the Basij forces proved in vain. Although he was injured 25 days, the extent of his wounds is such that he is still unable to even symbolically take part in any ceremony.
This is despite the fact that state news agencies such as Tasnim, Javan and IRNA were advertising that Soleimani will appear in the Student Day ceremonies in order to prove that this criminal henchman is healthy and active. To avert the disintegration of its forces in Syria, Ali Khamenei, the regime’s Supreme Leader has ordered all resources be used to improve the health condition of Soleimani, but these attempts have led nowhere.
The Security and Anti-terrorism Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran disclosed in a communiqué on November 28 that Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Qods Force, has been badly wounded in the southern front of Aleppo. He has undergone at least two surgeries since. Soleimani being injured, along with the high number of casualties among regime’s IRGC Brigadier Generals in Syria and the casualties suffered by Hezbollah commanders and regime’s other mercenaries, has made the clerical regime ruling Iran face escalating crises and has ruined the morale of its forces.
Suleimani is the major figure in Iran’s efforts in Syria and Iraq. A veteran of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and of Afghan anti-smuggling campaigns, he took over the Quds Force’s unconventional warfare operations in time for the American invasion of Iraq. During that campaign, he is thought to have arranged the deaths of at least a thousand Americans by the erection and support of Shi’a militias ideologically loyal to Tehran instead of to Baghdad‘s Shi’ite-led government. The influence of these militias today keeps Baghdad under the thumb of Iran in spite of its occasionally independent interests.
In Syria, the Quds Force has taken a leadership role in partnership with Russian forces due to its network of Shi’a militias being able to provide targeting information for Russian airstrikes and naval gunnery. Iran has been losing “scores” of its elite fighters even though they are operating in an advise/assist role similar to that employed by American Special Forces due to the intensity of the combat since the negotiation of the Iran deal paved the way for the Russia-Iran alliance in Syria. Qassem Suleimani himself flew to Moscow to negotiate the terms of the alliance now playing out in Syria, and he has been the major architect of the military campaign that both nations are fighting to protect Syrian Presiden Bashar Assad.
Suleimani’s absence from the field thus represents a significant potential loss to Iran’s campaign. At this time it is unclear which of his deputies has the capacity to lead in his absence. Middle Eastern military forces tend to concentrate decision-making authority at the highest ranks, leading to an incapacity for units to make independent decisions in the field. Quds Force is modeled on unconventional warfare practices, and should have avoided this design failure as a consequence. However, for now no one has appeared in the Iranian state media as a ‘hero’ to replace Suleimani in regime propaganda. Whether this is to protect a competent deputy, or because there is no competent deputy, remains to be seen.