Esmail Ghaani, 62, has taken over from Major General Qassem Soleimani, after he was killed along with nine others when the US hit his motorcade just outside Baghdad’s international airport on Friday morning.
The new commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, part of the 125,000-strong Revolutionary Guard, was Maj Gen Soleimani’s deputy and will now answer only to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Announcing General Ghaani’s new role, the ayatollah called him one of the most prominent commanders in Iran.
He said the Quds Force will be unchanged from the time of his predecessor, according to Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.
Like Maj Gen Soleimani, General Ghaani fought for Iran in its eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s and later joined the newly founded Quds – or Jerusalem – Force.
Not much is known about him, but sanctions placed against him by the West suggest he has long been in a position of power in the organisation.
In 2012, Gen Ghaani was sanctioned by the US over financial disbursements to proxies affiliated to the Quds Force.
The sanctions tied Gen Ghaani to 13 shipping containers seized in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2010, labelled as packages of glass wool and pallets of stone which were bound for Gambia, then under the rule of dictator Yahya Jammeh.
Authorities instead found 107mm Katyusha rockets, rifle rounds and other weapons.
One of his first duties will likely be to oversee revenge for the US airstrike which killed his longtime friend, Maj Gen Soleimani.
We are children of war, General Ghaani once said of his relationship with Maj Gen Soleimani, according to IRNA.
We are comrades on the battlefield and we have become friends in battle.
Speaking about the million people killed during the Iraq-Iran War, Gen Ghaani said volunteers saw many young boys killed, but when we ordered them to go, would not hesitate.
The commander is looking to his soldiers as his children, and in the soldier’s point of view, it seems that he received an order from god and he must to do that, he added.