A pro-Assad Syrian group on February 11 and 12 launched a publicity campaign to honor Qassem Soleimani in several Italian cities including Rome and Milan by displaying hundreds of posters of the slain Qods Force commander.
Iranian news websites have extensively reported the incident and Iran's state-run television (IRIB) has shown a report by its correspondent in Rome in its news bulletins. In the IRIB report, the poster of Qassem Soleimani is seen with the Colosseum in the background.
The publicity campaign coincided with the 40th day of Soleimani's passing. The 40th-day mourning ceremony marked by rallies and speeches are underway throughout Iran this week.
Reporting from Rome the state-run television's reporter in this video claims the group that launched the pro-Soleimani campaign is an Italian group of activists.
The Facebook page of the Fronte Europeo per la Siria in a post on February 12 said it put up the posters "from Turin to Palermo, from Bolzano to Naples" and posted a series of photos showing the posters on walls in various places. Fronte Europeo per la Siria is the Italian branch of the pro-Assad European Solidarity Front for Syria.
The slogan on the posters of a smiling Soleimani reads: "But there is another type of paradise: The Battlefield, the battlefield for one's homeland" in Italian with an inscription at the top that says "In honor of Soleimani". The poster also bears the Syrian activist group's logo.
The initiative "aims to honor the memory of a man whose commitment and dedication to the cause of the freedom and sovereignty of nations has moved and inspired millions of free men and women in the world," the pro-Assad Syrian activists' post said.
Agenzia Nationale Stampa Associata (ANSA), the leading wire service in Italy, on February 12 reported that the posters were put up on a very long wall on Via Mechiorre Gioia, and other the main thoroughfares in Milan and posted a video. The campaign was also reported by La Repubblica Milan.
According to a website called AdHocNews which is registered in Italy and describes itself as an "in-depth web magazine", the European Front for Syrian was formed in Italy in 2013 "to coordinate the activities of European supporters of the Syrian cause and of the legitimate President Bashar Al Assad".
This is probably the first time the Iranian regime has used its proxy groups to launch a publicity stunt of this scale in a western country. Currently no reports of the Italian public's reaction to the campaign are available.