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Khamenei Appoints Hardliner General To Replace Soleimani

Brigadier General Esmail Qaani (Ghaani), IRGC Quds Force deputy, undated. File photo

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed Brigadier General Esmail Qaani (Ghaani) as commander of Qods force less than 12 hours after the killing of Qassem Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

In his decree appointing Qaani, Khamenei characterized him as “one of the most distinguished Revolutionary Guard commanders”. Qaani fought in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and was a close and trusted aide to Soleimani. He also served as an intelligence official in the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC).

Qaani is known for his extremist opposition to Israel, similar to Soleimani, and was one of the key figures in Iran’s involvement in the Syrian civil war.

However, unlike Soleimani who usually refrained from commenting on internal political issues, Qaani had no reservations to intervene and express his views.

Khamenei has reacted harshly to Soleimani's killing, vowing retaliation against the United States. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a hardliner cleric in his Friday Sermon today said, "this is the time to clear the region from these insidious beasts.”

Who Is Who In The IRGC
Who Is Who In The IRGC

Friday Prayer sermons are usually coordinated by an office operating under the Supreme Leader's administration.