Was Qassem Soleimani in Beirut over the weekend?

Was Qassem Soleimani in Beirut over the weekend?
Pro-Iranian media have claimed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who has not been seen in public since he was reportedly injured in November, was in Beirut on Saturday
2 min read
16 May, 2016
Soleimani (second R) in a file photo [Anadolu]
Iran's celebrity general Qassem Soleimani was in Beirut on Saturday to offer his condolences for the death of Hizballah commader Mustafa Badreddine, news outlets close to Iran and the Lebanese Shia party have claimed.

Major General Qassem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Al-Quds Force arrived in Beirut in order to pay tribute to the fallen Hizballah commander, reported Ahlulbayt News Agency, quoting Lebanon's pro-Hizballah Al-Akhbar newspaper.

Soleimani was last in Beirut following the death of Jihad Mughniyeh, Badreddine's nephew and son of another slain Hizballah commander Imad Mughniyeh in January of 2015, claimed the reports.

Major General Suleimani was believed to have been very close with Mustafa Badreddine, making this trip to Beirut much more emotional for the Al-Quds Force commander, according to Al-AKhbar.

The reports, however, did not carry pictures of Soleimani in Beirut. Soleimani was reported critically injured in Syria late last year, and since then, there have been no documented public appearances by him, despite sporadic reports from pro-Iranian media placing him in certain events.

This has prompted questions regarding whether he is still alive.

Hizballah said Badreddine had been killed by Takfiri terrorist groups in Syria

On Saturday, Hizballah said Badreddine had been killed by Takfiri terrorist groups in Syria, in reference to Sunni jihadist groups, rather by its regional arch-foe Israel as it had been widely believed.

However, Syrian opposition figures and independent analysts have questioned Hizballah's claim. They contend the assassination of Badreddine was a complex operation that only a state actor, such as Israel, was capable of.

Hizballah fighters are fighting alongside the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad against both moderate rebels and Sunni extremists, including Islamic State and the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.