Qasem Soleimani was a "monster" and the world's No. 1 terrorist to President Donald Trump, but in Tehran he was the revered holder of Iran's version of the Medal of Honor. Now he has been posthumously awarded Syria's highest military honor, Iran's Tasnim news agency reported.
In death, Soleimani, a major general and head of Iran's Quds Force since 1998, also has apparently received a promotion. Iran's official media now refer to him at "Lt. Gen. Soleimani."
In March 2019, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini presented Soleimani with the Order of Zulfiqar, Iran's highest military honor, as a champion of the Islamic revolution of 1979 and defender of the nation at home and abroad.
Khameini told Soleimani at the time that he prayed for God to reward his life with martyrdom, but "of course, not any time soon," adding that Iran "needs him for years to come," according to state media.
The 62-year-old Soleimani, killed by a Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike at Baghdad's International Airport, was also awarded Syria's top military honor Monday in a presentation in Tehran, Iran's Tasnim news agency reported.
"Awarding this medal reveals the Syrian president's deep affection for General Soleimani and for his brothers in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis said as he presented the medal, on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, Tasnim reported.
The award was not named, but the Library of Congress lists the military award believed to be Syria's highest as the "Order of Military Honor," according to the website GlobalSecurity.org.
Syria's Assad has credited Soleimani with crucial support for propping up his regime against rebel forces in the form of arms and fighters from Iranian-backed Hezbollah militias in Lebanon.
While revered at home, Soleimani was particularly despised by the U.S. military as the architect of the campaign to use explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, in roadside bombs that killed hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.