According to a Mahan Air pilot, the dead commander of the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani personally oversaw the transport of “seven tons of banned cargo” to Syria in 2013.
In a memoir piece in the state-run YJC website, Amir Assadolahi said that he was the pilot of a Mahan Air flight in which Soleimani personally oversaw the transfer of the banned cargo, most likely arms, to Syria.
Assadolahi boasted in the article that Soleimani knew him by his first and last name, hinting that these flights were not out of the ordinary.
The US Treasury designated Mahan Air in 2011 for its support to the IRGC and secretly transferring arms cargo and forces to Syria.
At the time, Iranian officials vehemently denied the charges and attacked the US for the designation.
The pilot said that Soleimani sat next to him in the cockpit all throughout the flight that was carrying almost “200 passengers”.
According to Assadolahi, while flying over Iraq, they were asked to land at Baghdad Airport. He then claimed that in fear of US forces stationed at the airport, he asked Soleimani to exchange clothes with the flight engineer and hide in the cockpit.
When US and Iraqi forces come into the plane and “scan the faces of all the passengers” they do not find Soleimani.
Amir Assadolahi then goes on to brag that he bribed the Iraqi forces not to search the plane’s cargo.
The pilot said that Soleimani praised him for his work and said that “if I was President, I would give you a medal of honor”.
Using a passenger airliner to carry military cargo is tantamount to using a human shield and is banned according to international regulations.
Qasem Soleimani, killed in a US airstrike on January 3, had been the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force since 1997. He was the main architect behind Iran’s warmongering tactics in the region and by many accounts, the regime’s second most powerful man.