Top Iran’s mysterious elite general 'Keyser Soze' appears in rare picture

“He is indeed like Keyser Soze,” a senior US official once said, comparing Sulaimani to the seemingly invisible character portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the film “The Usual Suspects”.

Iranian television published a rare picture Monday of its elite Quds Force chief in Iraq that was widely circulated online, puncturing the mystique of one of the region’s most powerful men.

The image of Major General Qassem Sulaimani purportedly showing him on an Iraqi battlefield was published on the website of IRINN state television, and repeatedly shared on Twitter.

Grinning widely, Sulaimani, easily identified by his greying hair and beard, was seen standing alongside Kurdish peshmerga fighters. IRINN did not say where the picture was taken.

Iran initially denied Sulaimani was in Iraq, but several pictures used in official media have appeared to confirm his presence near battles against militants from Daesh.

The Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, is highly secretive and conducts security functions abroad deemed necessary to protect the Islamic republic.

As its leader, Sulaimani is seldom mentioned in Iranian media, but he has cultivated a reputation as one of the most influential security operatives in the Middle East.

Since the Iraqi government was caught out by the Daesh surge this summer, Iran has played a key role in trying to roll back the militant offensive, sending military advisers and arms across the border.

Sulaimani was previously pictured near the Iraqi town of Amerli, which Kurdish fighters, Shiite militias and the Iraqi Army liberated on September 1. Again, the images were circulated on social media.

A senior Iranian justice official also recently stated that Sulaimani was present during fighting near Arbil alongside Kurdish forces in early August, going against his reputation for remaining out of sight.

“He is indeed like Keyser Soze,” a senior US official once said, comparing Sulaimani to the seemingly invisible character portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the film “The Usual Suspects”.

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