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It Looks Like Iran's Top Special Forces General Is In Syria Now

So that's sure to be great fun.

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Pictures of General Qassem Soleimani, one of Iran's top military leaders, began to circulate on Twitter on Tuesday, claiming that the commander was in Syria to take the lead on Iranian military operations there himself.

#IRGC Quds force commander Gen. Qassem Suleimani arrived in #Syria for the expected military campaign

Iran is currently engaged in military operations to help shore up Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Tehran is doing so mostly through Hezbollah — a group that has long served as a proxy for Iranian interests, both through its military and political wings.

Iran has long deployed senior commanders, including Soleimani, to Syrian and Iraqi battlefronts. But Soleimani — as head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force — has a particular reputation that follows him wherever he goes.

Soleimani's alleged presence in the city of Latakia, following the reported the deaths of two senior commanders in Syria, shows how deeply vested Iranians are in preserving Assad, who provides a conduit for shipments of weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

#Iran leader Khamenei & Qods force chief Soleimani w/ senior IRGC general Hamedani killed in #Syria on Oct 8

Russia's intervening in the conflict appears to have energized flagging morale for the Syria campaign among both Iranians and Hezbollah, which has suffered tremendous losses fighting against various rebel groups in defense of Assad.

@alihashem_tv #Suleimani in #Syria speak apparently to #Hezbollah fighters

Soleimani was recently rumored to have traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian officials in violation of the travel sanctions currently placed against him, though the Kremlin denied such a visit occurred.

That renewed enthusiasm could be seen in the pictures circulating of Soleimani, like this one showing soldiers crowding the general to take pictures of and with him.

#Hezbollah and #SAA soldiers applaud and hug Qasem #Soleimani in #Latakia

The intensive Russian airstrike campaign may be reviving hopes for a quick settlement of the conflict, or at least the bolstering of Assad's position to guarantee him a prominent place at any negotiations.

Borzou Daragahi contributed reporting to this story.

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

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