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Soleimani Receives Iran's Highest Military Medal From Khamenei

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) greets the commander of Iran's Qods Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani, during a religious ceremony in Tehran, March 27, 2015

IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani has received Iran's most prestigious medal of honor, the Order of Zulfiqar.

Fars news agency reported on Sunday March 10 that The Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has awarded the medal but did not say when was Soleimani decorated.

Soleimani is the first Iranian commander to receive the Order of Zulfiqar after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Order of Zulfiqar was coined in 1921. Ten army commanders including General Fazlollah Zahedi, Iran's first prime minister after the 1953 coup, had received the medal in Iran under the Shah.

Qassem Soleimani who led Iran's military operations in Syria, Iraq and Yemen in recent years, was promoted to the rank of major general in 2010. There are only 13 major generals in the Iranian army and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps altogether.

Soleimani is the most well-known Iranian officer outside the country. Although the media have said the reason why Foreign Minister Javad Zarif resigned recently was Soleimani's interventions in the country's foreign affairs, he was the first Iranian official to congratulate Soleimani for receiving the Order of Zulfiqar, calling him the man who made the Middle East safe.

Soleimani was seen during meetings between Syria's Bashar Assad and Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani on February 25, while Zarif was absent and apparently did not know about Assad's visit to Iran, which was arranged by Soleimani.

Previously, Soleimani had received the order of Fath (victory) from Khamenei in 1989.