Iran's top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, has been spotted in Syria addressing Iranian military officers and members of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, Fox News reported on Thursday.
Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or Qods Force, was pictured rallying Iranian military and Hezbollah members in western Syria in photos that appeared on Twitter, according to the report.
On Thursday, Reuters confirmed Soleimani's presence in the western province of Latakia in Syria. The news agency said Soleimani was seen addressing Iranian officers and Hezbollah fighters with a microphone while clad in dark-colored clothes.
Soleimani's presence in Syria is an indicator of how serious Iran's involvement in the civil war is.
In the past, he was sighted visiting Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, Shiite and Kurdish units fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) alongside government forces.
The 58-year-old Soleimani, who is forbidden under international sanctions from leaving Iran, has served since 1998 as commander of its Quds Force — a special military division that oversees clandestine operations.
Soleimani, who is listed as a terrorist by the United States, is one of several Iranian officials targeted by a 2007 United Nations travel ban because of their alleged links to Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, but the sanctions against him are due to be lifted in the event the Iran nuclear deal is implemented.