Tide of people, anti-US chants, & sorrow as Tehran mourns death of General Soleimani & Iraqi militia commander (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
A massive funeral procession occupied the streets of Iran’s capital as huge crowds of people – including the military’s top brass – came to pay tribute to the deceased Quds Force commander and deputy chief of Iraq’s Shia militia.
The remains of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force who was killed in a US air strike, was flown to Tehran after a day of funeral processions in Ahvaz and Mashhad. Bodies of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy chief of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), and other “martyrs” who died alongside Soleimani in an American drone strike, also arrived in the city.
On Sunday morning, a sea of people dressed in black poured onto the streets of the capital, with state media putting the number of mourners at “millions,” although the number has yet to be verified.
Later in the day, funeral prayers were conducted by the sitting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the unfinished grand mosque of Tehran, named after Ayatollah Khomeini. Khamenei’s voice was sobbing as he recited verses from the Koran together with President Hassan Rouhani and top officials.
VIDEO: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prays over the coffin containing the remains of top military commander Qasem Soleimeni in an emotional ceremony in Tehran pic.twitter.com/KkMzvtMnCG— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 6, 2020
Esmail Qaani, who succeeded Soleimani as the commander of the Quds Force, was also seen choking back tears as he knelt before Soleimani’s coffin which had been draped in the national flag.
Men and women of all ages were also filmed crying while others were seen holding pictures of the late commander. Mourners passed his coffin over their heads, with numerous “death to America” and “down with USA” chants heard in the crowds.
Soleimani’s daughter Zeinab joined the cries of vengeance, telling the crowds: “Crazy [Donald] Trump, don’t think that everything is over with my father’s martyrdom.” She said that a “dark day” awaits the US and Israel after the death of her father. Monday’s procession saw a number of American and Israeli flags burned by furious mourners.
Some in Iran’s leadership have used the most remarkable pictures from the ceremony to send a bold message to Donald Trump who called Soleimani Iran’s “terrorist leader.”
“Have you EVER seen such a sea of humanity in your life?” asked Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, adding that the “end of malign US presence in West Asia has begun.”
Have you EVER seen such a sea of humanity in your life, @realdonaldtrump?Do you still want to listen to the clowns advising you on our region?And do you still imagine you can break the will of this great nation & its people?End of malign US presence in West Asia has begun. pic.twitter.com/5WzYM9OBuQ— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 6, 2020
Following Monday’s procession, the general’s remains will be taken to Qom, one of the holiest cities for Shia Islam, before being buried in his hometown of Kerman on Tuesday.Soleimani, a designer of Iran's clandestine and military operations overseas, is the first dignitary in modern history to have received a funeral ceremony in several cities across Iran.
The late general rose to prominence during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and was appointed chief of the Quds Force in 1998. He is also believed to have played a key role in Iran’s effort to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.
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