By Joanna Paraszczuk, RFE/RL
It seems that the Iranian media is doing its best to create an aura of invincibility around Quds force commander Qassem Suleimani
Iran's "mysterious" Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Suleimani may have stepped out of the shadows in Iraq, but the Iranian media's myth-making efforts about the once-elusive military chief continue apace.
Tehran's efforts to promote and praise the role of Suleimani in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq took a step forward on November 5, when media reports described the leader as so brave that he refuses to don a flak jacket.
The Iranian media, particularly those outlets linked to the military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), have devoted considerable space to claims that Suleimani is overseeing operations against IS gunmen in Jurf Al-Sakher.
Iran's Fars News, which is affiliated to the IRGC, went to the trouble of translating an Associated Press interview with an unnamed Iraqi general as giving an example of Suleimani's courage in the face of Islamic State.
"An Iraqi military official who asked not to be named, said, in describing the character of Major General Qassem Suleimani, that he is so courageous and fearless that even in times of danger on the frontlines he does not use a bulletproof vest," the report said.
Iran has reported that Suleimani was behind the victory of Iraqi forces and Shi'ite militias over IS militants at Jurf Al-Sakher last week.
The AP report cited by Fars quoted a Shi'ite militia commander, named as Abu Zainab, as saying that Suleimani had begun to plan the Jurf Al-Sakher operation three months ago.
Iran, which has been outspoken in its opposition to the U.S.-led coalition against IS in Syria and Iraq, has said that it is its expertise, and the fighting power of Iraqi Shi'ite militias, that is helping push IS back from the "Baghdad Belt ."
Local Shi'ite militia commanders also told the Associated Press on November 5 that "dozens" of advisers from Iran's Quds Force as well as the Lebanese Hizballah group were on the front lines at Jurf Al-Sakher, and had provided weapons training to 7,000 troops and Shi'ite militia fighters.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted these photographs on November 6 of Suleimani and General Hadi Al-Ameri of Iraq's Badr Force:
... Payvand News - 11/08/14 ... --