Tehran, Jan 5 (AFP/APP): A tide of mourners packed the streets of the Iranian city of Ahvaz Sunday to pay respects to top general Qasem Soleimani, days after he was killed in a US strike.
“Death to America,” they chanted at a mass gathering in the streets of the southwestern city, where Soleimani’s remains arrived from Iraq before dawn, according to semi-official news agency ISNA.
They beat their chests to the sound of Shiite chants and held up portraits of the general, seen as a hero of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and for spearheading Iran’s Middle East operations as chief of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force.
Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike Friday near Baghdad international airport that shocked the Islamic republic. He was 62.
The assassination, which was ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheted up tensions between the arch-enemies and sparked fears of a new war in the Middle East.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “severe revenge” and declared three days of mourning following the news of his death.
Tensions between longtime foes Iran and the US escalated last year when Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark accord that gave the Islamic republic relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.