Posted tagged ‘Soleimani’

Qassem Soleimani boasts of Tehran’s expanded footprint throughout Middle East

July 7, 2017

Qassem Soleimani boasts of Tehran’s expanded footprint throughout Middle East, Long War Journal , July 6, 2017

Qassem Soleimani

“The Islamic Republic has been the victor of all events that have happened in the region,” Soleimani claimed.

On domestic politics, Soleimani had strong words for critics of the IRGC, indirectly criticizing President Hassan Rouhani. “In the Islamic Republic, we’re all responsible towards martyrs, society, religion and our country. The biggest betrayal is to cast doubt toward the foundations of this system.” He continued, saying “none today must weaken the corps.” This is likely a reference to Rouhani’s recent criticism of the IRGC during and since the presidential campaign. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: The Revolutionary Guard’s long shadow over Iran’s presidential election.]

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On July 3, Major General Qassem Soleimani, the chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Qods Force, spoke at an Iran-Iraq war veterans gathering in his home province of Kerman.

Soleimani praised the Islamic Republic’s decades-long effort to take the mantle of the Palestinian cause and boasted that Tehran’s influence in the Middle East has expanded as a result of the Syrian war. He excoriated Saudi Arabia, as well as domestic Iranian critics of the Guard Corps. And the general also lamented the drop in religious observance in Iran.

Soleimani hailed the importance of Qods Day, established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to call for Israel’s destruction and express support for Palestinians. Tehran-sponsored Qods Day celebrations were held in several countries last month. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: Qods Day commemorations highlight Tehran’s global reach.]

“One of the important and valuable innovations of Imam Khomeini was making central the system’s policies on the Palestinian issues, and the Imam (may the almighty God be pleased with him) hoisted the flag of mahdavi in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Soleimani said. Mahdism is belief in the Mahdi, or the 12th Shiite Imam, who would rise before judgement day.

Soleimani then chastised “some Arab countries” who are “surrounding” the “oppressed” Palestinians. Tehran has accused Arab states of “selling out” the Palestinian cause, because these same Arab nations have expanded ties with Israel over shared concerns about Iranian power.

“The Islamic Republic’s global defense of the oppressed peoples of Iraq and Syria” has increased Iran’s global popularity, Soleimani claimed. Other evidence suggests the opposite has happened: over the past decade, Tehran’s regional policies have led to sharp drops in Iran’s favorability rating in the Middle East and around the globe.

“The target of the takfiri terrorists was to bring the Islamic Republic to the ground with these conspiracies and to make it kneel in front of this religious sedition,” Soleimani claimed. He elaborated: “Those who were behind this sedition and fanned it also had this imagination. This is while the greatness and strength of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the emergence of DAESH [the Islamic State] and toward the end of DAESH increased tens of times.”

Like other senior Iranian officials, Soleimani has claimed that the Islamic State was a conspiracy weaved by Tehran’s enemies to target the Islamic Republic. Although Iranian-backed forces and the Islamic State fight one anther in Iraq and Syria, Tehran has used the Sunni jihadist group’s rise to justify its involvement abroad and its own jihad to defend Shiite shrines from virulently anti-Shiite extremists.

Soleimani boasted about the Syrian regime’s rising fortunes, though he failed to mention that Russia’s military intervention was essential in turning the tide of war. “One day, Syria faced many problems, and today the Syrian government becomes stronger every day,” he stated. The “global belief today is that the Syrian system is undefeatable.”

Soleimani spoke about the expansion of Tehran’s operations in Syria during the war. “Several years ago in Syria, we didn’t have relations with individuals and movements more than the numbers of fingers, while we have relations with hundreds of thousands today,” he boasted. “While some countries that argued with us, ‘don’t defend Syria’s government,’ [they] are standing next to the Islamic Republic today and have changed their policies.”

The Qods Force chief lauded the rise of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a conglomeration of Iraqi militias dominated by IRGC-backed factions. He omitted the fact that US air support has been crucial in the anti-Islamic State campaign.

“The Iraqi army is moving as a national, powerful Islamic army. This is due to popular forces. Something similar happened in our country,” he said, referring to the formation of the IRGC and the Basij paramilitary. Tehran aspires to consolidate its gains in Iraq through the vehicle of the PMF. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: Qods Force commander to advance Tehran’s influence as ambassador to Iraq.]

The Iranian general mocked Saudi Arabia: “If there’s a lot of oil in a country…but mad logic rules, terrible events happen, and mad things like war with Yemen happen and these ignorant individuals are incapable of extinguishing this fire.” As the civil war in Yemen enters its third year, Soleimani has overseen increasing Iranian support for Houthi fighters and allied forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Houthi-Saleh alliance seeks to stymie the Saudi and UAE-led coalition.

“The Islamic Republic has been the victor of all events that have happened in the region,” Soleimani claimed.

He also praised the IRGC’s missile strikes on Islamic State positions in Syria last month, saying “this had several good benefits, one that it showed the Islamic Republic has the will to act, and the principle of will was more important than the result.” Israeli sources say Iran’s missile strikes were largely unsuccessful, with only one projectile striking their targets. Soleimani’s statement could be read as an admission that not all the missiles struck their targets. Regardless, he emphasized that the missile strikes highlighted the training of experts in building “precise” missiles.

“I have witnessed many scenes of missile raining down including American missiles,” he explained. He cited a Quranic verse in his praise, arguing “this movement of the corps was truly, ‘It was not you who threw when you threw; God is the One who threw.’”

On domestic politics, Soleimani had strong words for critics of the IRGC, indirectly criticizing President Hassan Rouhani. “In the Islamic Republic, we’re all responsible towards martyrs, society, religion and our country. The biggest betrayal is to cast doubt toward the foundations of this system.” He continued, saying “none today must weaken the corps.” This is likely a reference to Rouhani’s recent criticism of the IRGC during and since the presidential campaign. [See FDD’s Long War Journalreport: The Revolutionary Guard’s long shadow over Iran’s presidential election.]

“Do not compare the corps with me…target me, not the corps,” he said. “Without the corps, there wouldn’t be a country.”

Soleimani acknowledged the drop in religious observation in Iran, though he sought to deflect blame from the regime’s practice of shoving its version of religiosity down people’s throats. “We must not make people pessimistic toward religion and make society fear the devout, because turning people away from religion leads to higher divorce rate, and social corruption grows with reduction in values,” he said.

“How is it that some seek to make society afraid of the religiously devout? This is a wrong strategy and policy.”

A Revolutionary Guard commander once admitted that only five percent of Iran’s mosques are operational during the year.

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

Syria declares truce before Trump-Putin talks

July 3, 2017

Syria declares truce before Trump-Putin talks, DEBKAfile, July 3, 2017

The picture beginning to unfold is that Washington and Moscow are making an effort to put in place the outline of a plan for deconfliction zones, in time for the first Trump-Putin encounter that is scheduled for later this week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg.

However, the two presidents may find pushing hard against them are Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Assad and Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Syrian and Iraqi fronts. This trio is in full momentum of an offensive to seize this prized, bitterly-contested border region of Syria, and convinced that the tide of this offensive is rolling in their favor.

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The Syrian army Monday July 3 suddenly declared a ceasefire in the fierce fighting with rebel forces in the southern districts on the Israeli and Jordanian borders.

This was just one of three unexpected events occurring in this embattled part of Syria in the last 24 hours:

1. The ceasefire Damascus said would be in force up until Wednesday, July 6 covers all the active battlefronts in the South: Daraa just 1 km from the Jordanian border: Quneitra – from which Syrian military mortars flew across into the Golan all last week; and Suwaydeh which lies east of Daraa.

Oddly enough, the ceasefire was not announced until Monday afternoon, although it went into effect Sunday midnight without notice.  According to our sources, the Russians most likely had to twist President Bashar Assad’s arm to overcome his refusal to order his army to stop fighting. And then too he would only accept a four-day pause before resuming combat.

2.  The announcement coincided with a meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian diplomats in the Kazakh capital of Astana to discuss the carving out of four de-escalation zones in Syria, one of which is southern Syria, where the ceasefire went into force.

3. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources reveal that this step is the first visible sign of an initial understanding reached by American and Russian officers in secret talks Saturday, July 1, in Amman. They discussed the ceasefire in the South for paving the way for establishing a demilitarized zone in eastern Syria.

According to our sources, their understanding covered a 128km strip running from Tabqa in the north up to Karama in the Euphrates River valley. It is not yet clear whether the Syrian army and the pro-Iranian Iraqi and Hizballah forces fighting there will agree to halt their advance on the Syrian-Iraqi border, in compliance with the Russian-US understanding.

The picture beginning to unfold is that Washington and Moscow are making an effort to put in place the outline of a plan for deconfliction zones, in time for the first Trump-Putin encounter that is scheduled for later this week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg.

However, the two presidents may find pushing hard against them are Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Assad and Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Syrian and Iraqi fronts. This trio is in full momentum of an offensive to seize this prized, bitterly-contested border region of Syria, and convinced that the tide of this offensive is rolling in their favor.

How an Iranian general duped US command in Syria

June 10, 2017

How an Iranian general duped US command in Syria, DEBKAfile, June 10, 2017

Our sources cannot confirm for certain what part the Russians played in Iran’s underhand maneuver. Were they in on it, or were they hoodwinked by Soleimani like the Americans? However, the bottom line of this incident is that Syria’s neighbors, Israel and Jordan, face a new and distinctly troublesome downturn in the strategic situation on their borders. The next arena of potential US-Iranian confrontation is building up in Syria’s oil-rich Deir ez-Zor region.

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The Iranian-made Syrian drone downed by US F-15 fighters in southeastern Syria on June 8 was presented by American media as a “pro-regime” drone. It was in fact, as DEBKAfile’s military sources can disclose, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Shahed-129, which was fired as a part of a complicated ruse to dupe the US commanders while pro-Iranian forces surreptiously moved in on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The Americans had drawn a line in the Syrian Desert sand 55 km outside the Al-Tanf border crossing embedded in the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border triangle, which is under the control of US, Western and Jordanian special forces, together with a US-trained Syrian rebel group. The Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the US military command in Syria and Iraq were confident that by securing this perimeter, their forces would keep the pro-Iranian advance at bay and the border safe.

When the hostile drone flew past this line, it was shot down. But the Americans were reluctant to let the incident escalate into a major clash, while the Iranians were smarting under the Islamic State attack on Tehran’s national sites. And so they played it down. The next day, therefore, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis reported that “hostilities between the coalition and the pro-regime forces had been avoided thanks to Russian influence. He went on to say: “The calm we see today is largely due to their efforts.”

What brought the Russians onstage?

The sequence of events which unfolded over 48 hours in the Syrian Desert is revealed her by our military sources. The drone was fired as a deliberate provocation to cross the 55-km line enclosing the US-controlled border garrison, on the orders of the Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani. It was intended as a diversion from the real action.

The Russians entered the picture at this stage with an attempt to cool the situation and restore calm. While they were busy assuring the Americans that the Syrian army, Hizballah and its other pro-Iranian allies would refrain from crossing the 55-km line, Qassem moved a large-scale force up to a point just a few hundred meters from the American line.

By Friday, June 9, as Russian de-escalation diplomacy with the Americans wound down, Soleimani’s forces were found to have quietly reached new positions on both sides of the border.

1. He had moved those forces to a point 56km north of Al-Tanf to a rendezvous with pro-Iranian Shiite militias which had come from southern Iraq. That rendezvous breached the Iraqi-Syrian border and attained Iran’s strategic goal of opening up a land bridge between Iraq and Syria.

2. A second pro-Iranian force captured and cut off the roads from northern Syria to the southeastern town of Deir ez-Zor, thereby segregating US and pro-American forces in the north from the American garrison in the south.

Our sources cannot confirm for certain what part the Russians played in Iran’s underhand maneuver. Were they in on it, or were they hoodwinked by Soleimani like the Americans? However, the bottom line of this incident is that Syria’s neighbors, Israel and Jordan, face a new and distinctly troublesome downturn in the strategic situation on their borders. The next arena of potential US-Iranian confrontation is building up in Syria’s oil-rich Deir ez-Zor region.

Resistance Axis Opponents Enraged At Photos Of Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani In Aleppo: The Photos Are Proof Of Iranian Expansion In Syria, Are Reminiscent Of Nazi Generals Strolling Through Cities They Destroyed

January 5, 2017

Resistance Axis Opponents Enraged At Photos Of Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani In Aleppo: The Photos Are Proof Of Iranian Expansion In Syria, Are Reminiscent Of Nazi Generals Strolling Through Cities They Destroyed, MEMRI, January 4, 2017

Several days after the Syrian regime and its allies retook eastern Aleppo, one of the Syrian opposition’s main remaining strongholds, with siege and heavy bombardment, the Iranian press published photos of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Qods Force, which is part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as he toured the ruined city, including the medieval citadel at its center.

The photos enraged opponents of the resistance axis, which is headed by Iran and the Syrian regime. They perceived the photos as proof that Aleppo is now occupied by Iran and a signal that Iran is also aiming to occupy other cities in Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf. Articles in the Arab press, especially in the Gulf, called Soleimani a “modern-day Hitler,” and argued that the world is not stopping him, just as it had not stopped Hitler and other mass murderers in modern history.

6728aSoleimani tours Aleppo (Qasemsoleimani.ir, December 16, 2016)

Following are excerpts from major reactions in the Arab press to the photos of Soleimani in Aleppo:

Iran Is Signaling Its Intent To Occupy More Cities In The Middle East

Hamad Al-Majed, a Saudi columnist for the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote: “The well-known photo of the Gen. Qassem Soleimani arrogantly walking the empty streets of Aleppo that his forces destroyed and whose residents they killed and expelled… is a massive propaganda message that Iran has leaked to the media, and holds within it thousands [more] messages. It is as if Soleimani, a military peacock arrogant over his victories, is muttering: ‘Yesterday we liberated Baghdad and the other Iraqi cities, and after that Sana’a [in Yemen], and after that we took over Beirut [in Lebanon], and today we are liberating Aleppo. It is only a matter of time before [we] dismantle the other cities in Syria, and then, sooner or later, you will see me strolling through the rubble of other Arab cities in the Middle East…”[1]

‘Ali Al-Husseini, a columnist for the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal, which is affiliated with pro-Saudi and anti-Assad elements in Lebanon, wrote: “Two days ago, the Iranian expansion plan was revealed, [which has now] reached Aleppo after [reaching the Syrian cities of] Al-Qusayr, Al-Zabadani, and Madaya, [occupied by Hizbullah]. [What revealed this plan was] IRGC [Qods Force] commander Qassem Soleimani, who emerged strolling the neighborhoods of Aleppo that reek of destruction, witnessed the killing of children, and are littered with the bodies of dead residents. There is no doubt that this was a painful picture for residents of the city…

“With the aid and assistance of [Afghani, Pakistani, and Iraqi] mercenaries, Soleimani yesterday stepped on the body parts and in the blood of Aleppo residents, and also on the emotions of its orphaned children. This photo birthed, in their souls, a desire for vengeance, and a dream to return [to Aleppo] with fire in their eyes…”[2]

Arabs Should Awaken And Act – Because Iran Poses A Danger To The Gulf States

Saleh Al-Sheikhi, a columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Watan, called on Arabs to awaken and act, in light of what is perceived as an Iranian takeover of yet another Arab city. He wrote: “Two days ago, I stood for nearly an hour, no less, looking at the photo of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani strolling through the streets of Aleppo – which are no longer streets but ruins and piles of rubble. I struggled, no less, to put out of my mind my visions of Soleimani’s false dreams about strolling through cities in the Gulf [countries]… I searched out society’s reaction to this shocking photo, and what I found was sad: [Instead of reactions to this photo, I found reactions to] Sheikh ‘Abdallah Al-Suwailem, [who,] with all the esteem in which I hold him and his colleagues, has launched an argument that is out of place, with his statement that a sexual relationship between family members who are prohibited from marrying each other is less [grave] than abandoning [the commandment] of prayer. This [statement of his] opinion triggered thousands of debates, tweets, recriminations, gossip, and widespread debates that preoccupied the public.

“Qassem Soleimani is strolling through Syria with his eye on the other Arab capitals – while Sheikh ‘Abdallah Al-Suwailem is arguing with the public on the issue of abandoning morning prayers and sexual relations between relatives who may not marry! If we do not act now and feel our important national responsibility, then when will we act?”[3]

Soleimani Is A “Modern-Day Hitler”; The World Is Not Stopping Him – Just As It Did Not Stop Hitler At The Time

Some resistance axis opponents called Soleimani a “modern-day Hitler,” and argued that the world is not acting to help the Syrian people, just as it did not act to help victims of other massacres throughout modern history. Lebanese MP Muhammad Kabbara, of the Al-Mustaqbal party, stated: “History will show that what happened in Aleppo has surpassed the myths of the Nazi crematoria. The coming generations will never forget that the Persians, Russians, and the Assad regime were the ones who conducted massacres in Aleppo. They will never forget the sight of the modern-day Hitler, Qassem Soleimani, touring, and gloating over, the ill-fated neighborhoods of Aleppo in the company of an officer from Assad’s [army].”[4]

Amr Hamzawy, a former Egyptian MP and a columnist for the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, wondered: “Why does the world leave the Syrian people on its own to be massacred by the dictator Bashar Al-Assad, and by Russia and Iran, which sponsor him? Because our evil world only knows how to massacre the weak while turning them into the perpetual victims of criminals and tyrants…

“Any serious action to save Syrians from slaughter would be contrary to the norm in our world, [which kept silent in light of] the massacres of Armenians and Jews in Europe; the extermination of 27 million in the former Soviet Union during WWII, [and] the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan on the pretext of ending World War II… Any true effort by those who monopolize the industries of weapons, killing, and bloodshed to stop the Syrian massacre would be a bizarre deviation from their past policy and conduct.

“In the late 1930s, didn’t the governments of Britain, France, and the Soviet Union make it possible for the Nazis to spread murder and destruction across several parts of Eastern Europe to avoid a fight, and out of concern for their own interests? Didn’t Hitler emerge due to global disregard for his first crimes, and [didn’t] U.S. neutrality cause him to carry out further attacks and crimes?… Don’t the photos of Nazi generals in areas destroyed by their weapons in Soviet cities… remind you of the photos of Soleimani in Aleppo a few days ago?…”[5]

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 20, 2016.

[2] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), December 18, 2016.

[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), December 19, 2016.

[4] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), December 18, 2016.

[5] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), December 20, 2016.

Iranian Commander Who Killed Americans Tours Syria, Violating International Travel Ban

December 19, 2016

Iranian Commander Who Killed Americans Tours Syria, Violating International Travel Ban, Washington Free Beacon, , December 19, 2016

CORRECTS SPELLING OF NAME TO SOLEIMANI - In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, commander of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, prays in a religious ceremony at a mosque in the residence of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, March 27, 2015. Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sought Friday to reassure the six world powers conducting nuclear power talks in Switzerland, saying the negotiations remained focused on sealing a deal. (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)

Qassem Soleimani,  (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)

Multiple sources who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon about the matter disclosed that the Obama administration is taking a soft approach with Iran, including not enforcing sanctions, in order to preserve the nuclear deal and diplomacy with Tehran, which has threatened repercussions for any new sanctions.

Soleimani’s visit to Syria is viewed as a sign that Iran is not worried about facing repercussions for its continued military presence in Syria in support of embattled leader Bashar al-Assad.

Iran has breached international laws for some time without facing consequences. The Obama administration repeatedly assured Congress it would enforce sanctions on Iran when lawmakers expressed doubt about the viability of the Iran nuclear deal.

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A top Iranian commander responsible for the deaths of Americans was photographed touring the war-torn city of Aleppo in Syria over the weekend, in violation of a United Nations travel ban that the Obama administration swore to enforce while selling the landmark nuclear deal with Iran to Congress, according to multiple sources and photographs.

Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani—a top general who leads Iranian militants across the globe and is directly responsible for the death of Americans—was recently photographed touring Aleppo in a demonstration of Iran’s waxing influence in Syria and disregard for international resolutions barring such behavior. Soleimani’s presence in Syria is a direct violation of the United Nations resolution governing the nuclear deal.

Soleimani’s visit coincided with moves by the terror group Hezbollah, which is controlled by Iran, to establish its own claim in Syria, according to regional reports and footage.

Iran’s public presence in Syria has not been met with action by the Obama administration, which has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to explain why it is not enforcing current sanctions against Iran. Soleimani continues to direct Iranian forces in both Iraq and Syria and has long been sanctioned for the murder of U.S. citizens.

Mutliple sources who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon about the matter disclosed that the Obama administration is taking a soft approach with Iran, including not enforcing sanctions, in order to preserve the nuclear deal and diplomacy with Tehran, which has threatened repercussions for any new sanctions.

Soleimani’s visit to Syria is viewed as a sign that Iran is not worried about facing repercussions for its continued military presence in Syria in support of embattled leader Bashar al-Assad.

Iran has breached international laws for some time without facing consequences. The Obama administration repeatedly assured Congress it would enforce sanctions on Iran when lawmakers expressed doubt about the viability of the Iran nuclear deal.

The absence of consequences for Iran’s behavior has paved the way for Hezbollah to stake it own claim in Syria, according to congressional and foreign policy insiders who told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration is working behind the scenes to prevent any new sanctions against Iran.

“The Obama administration has been working overtime to prevent any U.S. official from doing anything new to punish the butchers of Syria, because they know that would force them to take action against Iran, and then Iran would walk away from the deal,” said one veteran insider who consults with Congress on the issue. “Now they’re ignoring even old sanctions against the Iranians. They’ll do anything to keep the Iranians in the deal for just a couple more weeks, so they can blame the inevitable collapse on Trump.”

A senior congressional aide apprised of the situation said the administration would continue to turn a blind eye to blatant violations in order to preserve diplomacy with Iran.

“This administration’s refusal to enforce sanctions explicitly allowed under the nuclear deal is not only cowardice—it’s dangerous,” said the aide. “What does it say about U.S. leadership when a terrorist like General Soleimani—someone with American blood on his hands—can freely travel to the ground zero of genocide in Syria without penalty? President Obama knows his nuclear deal is on thin ice, so he’s willing overlook blatant sanctions violations like this one even if it means more carnage in Aleppo.”

A second senior congressional source warned that refusal to enforce sanctions was empowering Iran’s radical regime, which has increasingly taken hold in Iraq as well, where the U.S. military has been accused of training Iranian-backed militias.

“The outgoing Obama administration struck a Faustian bargain with Iran, the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, and Soleimani, head of the IRGC terrorist organization that’s responsible for the death of many hundreds of Americans, continues to do victory laps throughout the Middle East” the source said. “Unless the Trump administration changes course, this short-sighted Iran policy cannot and will not end well.”

Troops in Aleppo, as well as an Iranian reporter, have been spotted raising Hezbollah’s flag in recent days, calling into question the Obama administration’s claim that it has been working to constrain the terror group.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on radical regimes, told the Free Beacon that Iran sees the nuclear deal as a vehicle to advance its regional aspirations.

“For Obama, diplomacy’s goal was to affirm his brilliance,” Rubin said. “For Iran’s leadership, it was an asymmetric warfare tactic meant to distract from a continuous geopolitical goal.”

“Red lines matter. Over 25 years, both Republicans and Democrats signaled to Iran about what they were,” Rubin explained. “Obama, however, believed himself wiser than Reagan, Clinton, and Bush—at least that’s what the man in the mirror told him every morning. Once Iran realized there were no real red lines, it concluded it could bust sanctions with impunity. Soleimani is the personification of that conclusion.”

The State Department conceded on Monday that Soleimani’s visit to Syria violated United Security Council resolutions government the nuclear deal, but would not lay out steps meant to address the behavior.

“We do intend to consult with our partners on the security council about how to address our concerns with this,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby said during a press briefing. “We’ve long said that Iran needs to choose whether it’s going to play a positive role in helping peacefully resolve conflicts, such as in Syria, or whether it will choose to prolong them. And you’re absolutely right, his travel was a violation.”

Update 3:05 P.M.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from the State Department.

Pro-Iranian Shiites ready to lead Mosul operation

October 28, 2016

Pro-Iranian Shiites ready to lead Mosul operation, DEBKAfile, October 28, 2016

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The US-led coalition offensive for liberating Mosul from ISIS suffered two ominous downturns on its 10th day

Friday, Oct. 28, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. One: Pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiites stand ready to assume a lead role, sparking the threat of sectarian violence in the mainly Sunni city; and, two, the Islamic State is poised to launch surface missiles with a range of 500km against Baghdad, as well as Jordan and Israel.

Friday, a spokesman for the Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups the Bader Brigades and the Population Mobilization Force announced that their advance toward the Islamic State-held town of Tal Afar, about 55 km west of Mosul, was imminent.

These militias are fighting under the command of the Iranian Al Qods chief, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who takes his orders from Tehran.

The capture of Tal Afar – a mix of Sunni and Shiite ethnic Turkmen until the Islamic State’s takeover two years ago – would cut off ISIS-held Mosul from Syria.

Turkey, Iraq’s northern neighbor, and the Kurds are seriously alarmed by the Shiite groups’ initiative.

The Shiites, who are not part of the main coalition fighting body preparing to storm Mosul, are about to strike ISIS from the north.

DEBKAfile’s military sources note that coalition commanders erred by not taking Tal Afar in the early stage of the Mosul offensive and so blocking ISIS supply lines.

The offensive was hobbled two days day earlier by the Kurdish decision to withdraw Peshmerga fighters from the operation to retake Mosul. President Masoud Barzani of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government stated Wednesday, Oct. 26, that his army had ended its role in the warfare, after cleansing dozens of mostly uninhabited villages on the road to Mosul, and did not intend to enter the city at this time.

This decision by the KRG in Irbil was not published.

Since the Kurds and the Shiite militias are out of it, who is left to finish the job and go into Mosul?

The mission which started out as a grand coalition enterprise has been left now to US forces and the Iraqi army.

However, Iraq’s elite 9th Golden Division and its federal anti-terror police unit have not made much headway in their advance against ISIS forces east of Mosul. Their commanders now warn the government in Baghdad that they can’t go any further without reinforcements.

But there are no Iraqi military reserves to draw on, without stripping any more main Iraqi towns of their defenses and laying them open to Islamists assaults, like those ISIS staged successfully last week on the oil city of Kirkuk, the Kurdish town of Sinjar and Rutba near the Jordanian border.

The long and short of it is that the Mosul offensive has virtually ground to a halt.

ISIS meanwhile is compounding its atrocities and gearing up for escalation.

1. The UN Human Rights agency reported Friday that, since the Mosul offensive began on Oct. 17, Islamic State forces in Iraq have abducted tens of thousands of men, women and children from areas around Mosul and are using them as “human shields” in the city as Iraqi government troops advance.

They shot dead at least 232 people on Wednesday, including 190 former Iraqi troops and 42 civilians when they refused to obey their orders.

2.  ISIS has plans to use chemical weapons against the coalition forces advancing any further towards Mosul.

3.  Following their raids on key Iraqi cities, the Islamist State is preparing to launch surface missiles against Baghdad.

4. ISIS may not confine its missile attacks to targets in Iraq. Our military sources report that the jihadists have laid hands on Syrian and Iraqi ground-to-ground missiles with a range of 500km and are holding them ready for attacks on Iraq’s neighbors, which could be Jordan. Israel too is in their sights.

Iran’s Soleimani leads US-backed attack on Fallujah

May 24, 2016

Iran’s Soleimani leads US-backed attack on Fallujah, DEBKAfile, May 24, 2016

Qassem_Soleimani_overseeing_Fallujah_ops_1Exclusive photo of war conference.

For months, US President Barack Obama and the Pentagon opposed the participation by pro-Iranian militias in the war against ISIS in Iraq.

The main objection were to the Popular Mobilization Army commanded by Iranian Gen. Abu Mahdi al Muhandis who has been named as a “specially designated global terrorist” by Washington.

The US was also against the Badr Organization (formerly the Badr Brigade) commanded by Hadi Al-Amiri from Iran’s Al Qods Brigades. These militias slaughtered the Sunni residents of cities that they recaptured from ISIS during the last year. As a result, many Sunni Iraqis preferred to be ruled by ISIS, and did not trust the coalition of US, Baghdad and Tehran.

But on May 22, with the start of the Iraqi attack on Fallujah, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq, it became clear that the participation of pro-Iranian forces is no longer taboo for the US.

Even though Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that 35,000 Iraqi troops launched an attack to liberate Fallujah from ISIS, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that most of these forces are not participating in the assault.

It is spearheaded by the Popular Mobilization Army and the Badr Organization, and they are under the direct command of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria, who is operating from a field command center.

The US air force is helping Soleimani’s attempt to capture Fallujah.

In a new exclusive photo showing the Iranian war room on the front, Soleimani is seen smoking a thick cigar with al-Muhandis on his left, leaning on a US map of the area of the battle.

Our military sources report that by assisting the offensive, which the Obama administration opposed for a long time, the Americans have actually given up on attacking Mosul, the ISIS capital in Iraq, any time soon.
Instead of liberating Mosul, Washington now prefers to place it under siege and gradually cause the collapse of ISIS rule.

The American decision to support Soleimani’s operation shows the central role played by Iran for the past few weeks in the wars carried out by the US and Russia in the Middle East.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Iranian general came to Fallujah from northern Syria, near the city of Aleppo, where he commanded the Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah armies. At this stage, it can be concluded that he has failed against the Syrian rebels on the Aleppo front.

Following that failure of that campaign, which was backed by Russian air power, Soleimani has relocated to the Fallujah front where his troops are operating under the protective umbrella of the US air force.