Memorial for Qassem Soleimani Erected in Lebanon Depicts The Moment His SUV Was Hit By A Drone Missile

The Memorial for Qassem Soleimani erected in Lebanon. (Image via @AuroraIntel)

One year ago, Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was killed in Baghdad. A somewhat weird memorial erected in Lebanon shows the moment a missile hit the SUV carrying the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.

On Jan. 3, 2020, at 12.47 AM LT, a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, along with members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s PMF militias. The attack occurred just outside Baghdad International Airport, in Iraq, where Soleimani had just arrived (from Lebanon or Syria) to bring Iran’s response to a letter that Iraq had sent out on behalf of Saudi Arabia in order to ease tensions between the two countries in the region, according to Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi.

The air strike on the convoy made by a Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Starex caused 10 casualties.

The details of the drone strike that assassinated Soleimani have never been disclosed and, one year later, there are still different narratives of the whole operation. According to one version, a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone, took off from Kuwait and carried out the raid. This version has never been confirmed; quite the contrary actually, as the Kuwaiti Armed Forces denied it. According to another version, as many as three MQ-9 drones took off from al-Asad airbase, the second largest airbase in Iraq, flew in the sky of Baghdad for 20 hours and then returned to al-Asad after the air strike.

Serviced by two parallel paved runways and at least 33 hardened aircraft shelters along with secured weapons storage facilities, Al-Asad Airbase was captured from Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces by the coalition Australian Special Air Service Regiment on April 16, 2003 by a special operations raid during the second Persian Gulf War in Iraq. The airbase, along with Irbil, was targeted by more than a dozen ballistic missiles launched by Iran as part of of “Operation Martyr Soleimani”, a retaliatory strike for the assassination of the Iranian General.

The SUVs carrying Soleimani and his staff were hit by what most analysts have identified as AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. The Hellfire an anti-tank weapon with variants in the 45-50 Kg range and laser or radar guidance that has become the munition of choice for airborne targeted killings that have included high-profile terrorist figures. Some of these killings were executed using a particular variant that uses pop-out sword blades to kill targets with minimal collateral damage.

Interestingly, according to some analysts, the assassination of Soleimani may have been carried out with a weapon that is intended to replace the AGM-114, called the AGM-179 Joint-Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM).

Anyway, looks like a memorial for Soleimani was allegedly erected (according to some sources three months ago), in Arabsalim, Lebanon. The somewhat weird memorial (that has not received positive comments on social media as it is considered “disrespectful” or “tasteless” but most people) depicts the moment Soleimani’s SUV was hit by what seems to be a Hellfire air-to-ground missile. The following tweet shows two photos of the memorial. One, at night, has a missile mock up (on a cardboard) installed on the roof of the car (a Honda); the other one, in daylight, shows another mock up in the background, behind the SUV, as if it was yet to be installed (or just removed).

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.