Hossein Sheikholeslam, a senior advisor to Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, credited Iran’s elite Quds Force for “defeating” the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and “foiling the American plots and calculations” in the region. In an interview with Tasnim News Agency, the former Iranian ambassador to Syria, commended Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani for having created a multinational force of Shiite groups from South Asia to the Levant region in order to secure Iran’s objectives in the region.

“Westerners created NATO so as to hire all groups, nations and military institutions for their grand objectives. But NATO has demonstrated no achievements and never succeeded to project a successful partnership. However, the Quds Force of Sepah [Islamic Revolution Guards Corps] succeeded to design and implement a more effective model of what NATO aimed to achieve,” Sheikholeslam told I.R.G.C.-affiliated Tasnim. “The Quds Force managed to use all at its disposal to counter Daesh [ISIS]. And it was due to General Soleimani’s leadership that nationals of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iran came together under a unified command. I think NATO commanders should learn from the leadership model of General Soleimani,” he added. “To achieve a sacred goal, the Quds Force called on Muslim holy warriors to act in unison. As a result of this invitation, holy warriors from many countries from Lebanon and Pakistan to Afghanistan and Iraq entered the field of jihad to achieve a sacred goal. And these two examples show the Islamic Revolution’s strategic depth in the region.”

He downplayed Russia’s role in saving the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad. “Russia’s role cannot be ignored. But in a war, the victor is the one that controls the ground, not the air… Therefore, Russia’s air support was very useful, but it was the Quds Force of Iran’s Sepah that managed to take territory from terrorists.” He added: “The end of Daesh came as a result of efforts by the fighters of the resistance front, intelligent strategies by Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei], and wisdom of Major General Qassem Soleimani.”

Sheikholeslam also accused the United States and its regional allies of aiding ISIS. 

Comment: With the seizure of the last ISIS major bastion in the border town of Abu Kamal in Deir Ezzor Province, Iranian leaders today declared the end of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Both Soleimani and President Hassan Rouhani congratulated Khamenei on the “victory.” In return, Khamenei praised Soleimani and described the defeat of ISIS as a blow to the United States and its regional allies. Iranian media published Soleimani’s images on their front pages, and described the fall of ISIS as Iran’s triumph over America and its regional allies.