Statue of Iranian commander divides Lebanese

A hero to some and an enemy to others.

A new statue in the Lebanese capital of the Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani is dividing opinion.

It was erected on the anniversary of his killing by the U.S. and sits at the entrance to Beirut's mainly Shi'ite southern suburbs.

A drone strike killed Soleimani, head of an elite overseas unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, in January last year.

Washington had accused him of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.

To some Lebanese supporters Soleimani is a source of pride.

"Martyr Qassem Soleimani means more to us than the statue - his sacrifices for the region and his impact all over. The defeat of Israelis and Americans in Iraq, it's all because of Hajj Qassem Soleimani, so the least we can do is put a statue of Hajj Qassem Soleimani, we give our souls for Hajj Qassem."

But others took to social media to criticize what they said was a symbol of Iran’s dominance under the hashtag “Hands_Off_Lebanon".

One user remarked that there wasn’t a statue for the victims of the Beirut blast in August.

Lebanon has for years been a stage for regional rivalry between Iran and its allies including Syria on the one hand, and U.S.-allied, Sunni-led Gulf Arab states on the other.

Video Transcript

- A hero to some and an enemy to others. A new statue in the Lebanese capital of the Iranian commander, Qassem Soleimani, is dividing opinion. It was erected on the anniversary of his killing by the US, and it sits at the entrance to Beirut's mainly Shi'ite southern suburbs.

A drone strike killed Soleimani, head of an elite overseas unit of Iran's Revolutionary guards, in January last year. Washington had accused him of masterminding attacks by Iranian aligned militias on US forces in the region. To some Lebanese supporters, Soleimani is a source of great pride.

- Martyr Qassem Soleimani means more to us than the statue. His sacrifices for the region and his impact all over. The defeat of Israelis and Americans in Iraq, it's all because of Hajj Qassem Soleimani. So the least we can do is put a statue of Hajj Qassem Soleimani. We give our souls for Hajj Qassem.

- But others took to social media to criticize what they said was a symbol of Iran's dominance, under the hashtag, "Hands off Lebanon." One user remarked that there wasn't a statue for the victims of the Beirut blast in August. Lebanon has for years been a stage for regional rivalry between Iran and its allies, including Syria on the one hand and US allied Sunni-led Gulf Arab states on the other.