Reports have surfaced, as has denial with equal fortitude, that the head of the Iranian Regime’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, General Qassem Soleimani, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week.
This would be their second meeting in five months, as both nations are collaborating on efforts to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power.
According to Al-Arabiya, the report of Soleimani’s visit came from the state-run Fars news agency in Iran. An Iranian state-news journalist tells Breitbart News he did not have accurate reports on the situation, but noted that an IRGC spokesperson neither rejected nor confirmed the reports.
Fars reported that last week’s three-day meeting focused on discussion of “the latest developments in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon” and that unnamed sources quoted Putin as referring to Soleimani as “my friend Qassem” during the meeting.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reportedly issued a quick denial saying “No, there wasn’t” such a meeting, according to Al-Arabiya. There was reportedly similar confusion during Soleimani’s late July visit to Moscow as well, confirmed by an Iranian official and two United States security sources. Russia reportedly denied this meeting, as well.
Soleimani has been sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council since 2007 and has been subject to an international travel ban and asset freeze since that time for his alleged role in illicit arms trafficking and smuggling nuclear materials. A U.S.-imposed sanction, which was implemented in 2005, was lifted this past July; apparently just days before Soleimani’s Moscow visit.
— Fars News Agency (@EnglishFars) July 14, 2015
Reports of last week’s meeting fall in line with an “unprecedented” meeting between Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei last month. The two leaders reportedly met for two hours.
Since late September, the two nations have been collaborating with Russian-backed air strikes and a pro-Assad regime ground offensive featuring hundreds of Iranian troops. Despite Russia’s claims that the air strikes were targeting Islamic State militants, the majority of those strikes were not hitting the radical Islamic group.
It has been suggested by some Iranians living in the Islamic Republic, several of which work in or are close with media sources, that the regime will often present one truth and one lie when answering the press in an attempt to cloak the reality of what is taking place.
When Breitbart News asked the same journalist in Iran if this was correct, they said “I don’t think so, at least I haven’t sensed that myself.” When pressed further, he admitted “that tactic may be used in some cases, but not all cases.”