No Light Shed by “New” Photos on Soleimani’s Disappearance
The aura of mystery with which Iran has always cloaked the activities of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Al-Qods Brigades, has spurred further speculation about his disappearance (first revealed in DEBKA Weekly 690 on Dec. 18) as caused either by serious injury, demotion or death.
The former overall commander of Iranian military operations in the region has been missing since the November rumors of his injury in a Syrian rebel ambush near Aleppo.
In the last few days, his followers have released two photos to show he is still active. Neither offer any real evidence of his current situation.
The most recent showed Soleimani in casual clothes, described on his Instagram account as talking to Iranian-backed Shiite militia fighters in Ramadi during this week’s offensive.
DEBKA Weekly discloses that Shiite militias were shut out of the offensive, which was led by the Iraqi army and Sunni tribesmen. In that situation, the Al Qods leader would never have put in an appearance. In any case, there is no evidence that he was there.
According to one comment, the Ramadi photo dates to July and one of the Shiite militiamen in the frame was no longer alive, having died in battle earlier this year.
The second image depicted Soleimani in army fatigues, allegedly on the Aleppo battlefield, which he visited more than once.
That footage too was dismissed by many viewers as aged.