Approximately at 1 am local time, January 3, 2020, near Baghdad International Airport, a US drone took out Qasem Soleimani, the head of IRGC Quds force. The assassination received different reactions; on the one hand, the Iranian news media called the incident the holy ascendance of a martyr whereas the US media referred to it as taking down an infamous international terrorist whose actions were posing an imminent threat to the US.
The Iranian media and other news sources close to IRGC in the region followed two major propaganda routes. For the international audience, Qasem Soleimani became a military genius who fought against ISIS (Daesh) and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. He was a high-ranking general who received the highest military award from Iran’s supreme leader. His death was a great loss for humanity.
After his assassination, the media close to the IRGS used a tone in describing his actions which paints a favorable picture of him. Qasem Soleimani was addressed along with his title as a commander or a Lieutenant General to emphasize his military ranks,meaning that he was a person of discipline living his life not like a terrorist in hiding, but like a general on many front lines. Not only that, but , he was referred to as a “warrior without borders” - a spin on Doctors Without Borders, a respectable organization, thus carrying a more positive connotation.
As for the domestic audience, Qasem Solemani was put among other ancient Iranian generals who bravely fought in battles protecting the lives of innocent Persian citizens and were killed protecting the borders of the country. This could justify why an Iranian general was killed on foreign soil: to protect Iranian interests in the region and push back against threats like ISIS and Taliban. Additionally, the Iranian citizens were told that if it had not been for Qasem Soleimani’s heroic actions in Syria and Iraq, ISIS would have certainly invaded Iran and enslaved Iranian women and children. Patriotism became a tool to attract more supporters for Qasem Soleimani. For those who believe in Islam more than Iran, the picture was rather different. He was put alongside religious icons who helped Shia Imams and was titled a martyr. That is the highest rank a muslim can ever achieve in his/her life.
Finally, the supreme leader, a Shia islamic icon who only sheds tears in death anniversaries of Shia Imams and the Prophet Mohammad, in an unprecedented event, wept for Qasem Soleimani while praying in public, showing how high Qasem Soleimani’s religious rank was for him.
IRGC vowed to avenge Qasem Soleimani’s death and launched several rockets into the US military base in Iraq. The propaganda machine began spreading the news that the US suffered huge casualties and their base was completely flattened. Later it was debunked by the US military and by President Trump himself saying that no American or Iraqi lives were lost. Another propaganda from the Iranian side claimed that the American troops were ordered to withdraw from the region in fear of revenge for Qasem Soleimani’s death. The news started to circulate on Iranian internal media and Farsi channels that the US is fleeing from the region. Later, this turned out to be only temporary and no other news channels reported of any US abandonment of any bases in the region.
Do you want to see the other side of the coin? Read about Soleimani's portrayal in American media here.