For the past 20 years or so, Qassem Soleimani has commanded the Quds Force — the branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards responsible for military and clandestine operations outside of the Islamic Republic.

Soleimani is a key figure in efforts to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad and to enable him to retake cities and towns from rebel groups during his country’s ongoing civil war. He is also responsible for providing military aid to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza — both of which are committed to the destruction of Israel — as well as to Shia and Kurdish groups in Iraq.

Three years ago, Israel came close to assassinating Soleimani near Damascus, al-Jarida quoted unnamed source as saying, but the Americans tipped off the Iranians against the background of intense disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem.