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  • Iranian people gather during a funeral for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Tehran, Iran January 6, 2020.

    Iranian people gather during a funeral for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Tehran, Iran January 6, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 January 2020

The voice of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, broke with emotion as he directed the prayers, forcing him to pause as he commemorated the late general.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians flooded the streets of Tehran on Monday to bid farewell to the Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed last Friday by the U.S. military in Baghdad.

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Leading the funeral procession was the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who broke down in tears as he commeorated the late general's contribution to the Islamic Republic.

Iranian state television reported the participation of "several million people" for the funeral procession of Soleimani, who was the head of the overseas forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The Iranians crowded the streets of the Iranian capital, as they joined Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, Soleimani's successor, Ismail Ghaani, the President of Parliament, Ali Larijani, and the head of the judiciary, Ibrahim Reisi, at the funeral procession.

The mourners burned Israeli and American flags and carried a coffin covered with the flag of the United States and effigies of U.S. President Donald Trump. Some described the Republican president, who ordered the attack, as the legitimate objective of Iranian revenge. 

The images of the massive procession, shown by state television, suggest that it is the largest funeral in Iran since the death of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989.

Soleimani, a decorated veteran after the eight-year conflict with Iraq, is considered a national hero in Iran, particularly for leading the maneuvers that expelled the Islamic State forces from Iraq and Syria, at the request of both countries.

The remains of Soleimaní and the Deputy Commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who died in the same U.S. attack, arrived in Iran yesterday.

The funeral will continue tomorrow in the hometown of Soleimaní, Kerman, in the southeastern part of the country.

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