Over the past 20 years, he survived several assassination attempts by Western, Israeli and Arab agencies
General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Quds Force, was killed along with six others in a US air strike at Baghdad airport.
Over the past 20 years, he survived several assassination attempts by Western, Israeli and Arab agencies.
As a leader of the foreign arm of the Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and for his key role in fighting in Syria and Iraq, Soleimani acquired celebrity status at home and abroad, reports AlJazeera.
Soleimani was involved in the spread of Iranian influence in the Middle East, which US and Tehran's regional foes Saudi Arabia and Israel have struggled to keep in check.
He born into a poor family in eastern Iran. Only educated to secondary school level. Soleimani started working as a 13-year-old to help support his family, spending his free time lifting weights and attending sermons by Khamenei. He is married, with three sons and two daughters.
Climb to power
In 1998, Soleimani became head of the IRGC. Soleimani kept a low profile for years while he strengthened Iran's ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria's Assad and Shia militia groups in Iraq.
He came into the limelight, in recent years, appearing along with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other Shia leaders.
Due to Soleimani's leadership, the IRGC vastly expanded its capabilities, becoming a significant influence in intelligence, financial, and political spheres beyond Iran's borders.
During the Iranian revolution in 1979, Suleimani began his ascent through the Iranian military, reportedly receiving just six weeks of tactical training before seeing combat for the first time in Iran's West Azerbaijan province, according to Foreign Policy magazine.
From the Iran-Iraq war, Soleimani emerged as a national hero for the missions he led across Iraq's border.
Weapons in Syria and Iraq
In 2005, following the re-establishment of government in Iraq, his influence extended into Iraqi politics under the leadership of former Prime Ministers Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Nouri al-Maliki.
The Badr Organisation, a Shia political party and paramilitary force that has been described as "Iran's oldest proxy in Iraq", became an arm of the state During that time, after the interior and transport ministries came under the control of the armed group's political wing.
In 2011, following the outbreak of civil war in Syria, Soleimani ordered some of his Iraqi militias into Syria to defend the Assad government.
During Iraq's fight against Islamic State, the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces), an Iran-backed Shia paramilitary units, some of which fell under Soleimani's control fought along the Iraqi military to defeat the armed group.
Threats to him
Soleimani was rumoured to be dead on several times, including a 2012 bombing in Damascus that killed top aides of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and in a 2006 aircraft crash that killed other military officials in northwestern Iran.
Rumours circulated in November 2015, that Soleimani was killed or seriously wounded leading forces loyal to Assad as they fought around Syria's Aleppo.
There have been repeated air attacks on IRGC bases in Syria. In August Israel accused the force of planning "killer drone attacks" and said its air raid showed Tehran that its forces were vulnerable anywhere.
More recently in October, Tehran said it had foiled a plot by Israeli and Arab agencies to kill Soleimani.
Soleimani says, "At night, we couldn't fall asleep with the sadness of thinking that government agents were coming to arrest our fathers." In his memoir, remembering the despair he felt in pre-revolution Iran.