Qasem Soleimani (Persian: قاسم سلیمانی, pronounced [ɢɒːˌsem solejˈmɒːniː]; 11 March 1957 – 3 January 2020) was an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and, from 1998 until his death in 2020, commander of its Quds Force, a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations. In his later years, he was considered the second most powerful person in Iran behind Ayatollah Khamenei, as well as being his right-hand man. Soleimani initially worked in construction before joining the Revolutionary Guards in 1979 and assembling and leading a company of men when the Iran–Iraq War began in 1980, rising through the ranks to become commander of the 41st Tharallah Division in his 20s. He was later involved in extraterritorial operations, and in the late 1990s became commander of the Quds Force. Following September 11th, 2001, Iranian diplomats under his direction collaborated with the U.S. to fight the Taliban. Soleimani also provided assistance to Hezbollah in Lebanon. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the government of Bashar al-Assad, a key Iranian ally, during Iran's operations in the Syrian Civil War and helped to plan the Russian military intervention in Syria. Soleimani oversaw Kurdish and Shia militia forces in Iraq, and assisted Iraqi forces that advanced against ISIL in 2014–2015. Soleimani was one of the first to support Kurdish forces, providing them with arms. Soleimani was popular among many Iranians, with many viewing him as a "selfless hero fighting Iran's enemies", while others deemed him a "murderer". Soleimani was personally sanctioned by the United Nations and the European Union and was designated as a terrorist by the United States. Soleimani was assassinated in a targeted U.S. drone strike on 3 January 2020 in Baghdad, which was approved by President Donald Trump. The strike was strongly condemned by many, including the Iranian government, and a multi-city funeral was held in Iraq and Iran for the general and other casualties. Hours after Soleimani's burial on 7 January 2020, the Iranian military launched missiles against U.S. bases in Iraq; no lives were lost in the attack.