CNN anchor Anderson Cooper compared Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps killed in an American airstrike on Thursday, to French president Charles de Gaulle, a leader of the French resistance against Nazi occupation during World War II.
"Soleimani is—it's difficult to convey how revered he is in Iran. Imagine the French Foreign Legion, at the height of the French empire. This guy is regarded in Iran as a completely heroic figure, personally very brave," CNN host Fareed Zakaria said.
Recent Stories in National Security
"I was trying to think of somebody, and I was thinking of de Gaulle, although he became the leader of the country," Cooper said.
Zakaria told Cooper the comparison is "not quite" fitting.
"Other than the Supreme Leader Khomeini and maybe the president, he looms larger in Iran than almost any other figure. He is regarded as personally incredibly brave," Zakaria said. "The troops love him, and he has been the kind of mastermind of Iran's policies in Syria, in Iraq."
Zakaria added that former Army general and CIA director David Petraeus told him Soleimani was his principle antagonist when Petraeus was fighting the Iraq war.
De Gaulle led the French resistance in World War II and then spearheaded the postwar rebuilding of the French government. He served as French president from 1959 to 1969.
An airstrike hit Soleimani's convoy near the Baghdad airport and killed the Iranian general. The strike came in the wake of escalating encounters between Iran and the United States, the latest of which saw Iranian-backed militiamen storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, prompting an aggressive response from the U.S. military.