Jan 06 2020 - 09:01
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Huge crowds in Iran for general's funeral as new commander promises revenge

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians thronged Tehran's streets Lebanon, news ,lbci ,أخبار Soleimani,Iran,Hundreds of thousands of Iranians thronged Tehran's streets
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Huge crowds in Iran for general's funeral as new commander promises revenge
Lebanon News

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians thronged Tehran's streets on Monday for the funeral of military commander Qassem Soleimani, killed by a US drone strike, and his successor promised to drive US forces out of the region in revenge.

 

The coffins of Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who also died in Friday's attack in Baghdad, were passed over the heads of mourners chanting "Death to America".

 

The killing of Soleimani, the architect of Iran's drive to extend its influence across the Middle East, on the orders of US President Donald Trump has stoked concern across the globe that a broader Middle East conflict could erupt.

 

Trump has listed 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, that would be hit if Iran retaliates with attacks on Americans or US assets.

 

"I promise to continue martyr Soleimani's cause as firmly as before with the help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to get rid of America from the region," said General Esmail Ghaani, the new commander of the Quds Force, the elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards charged with overseas operations.

 

"God the Almighty has promised to take martyr Soleimani's revenge. Certainly actions will be taken," he told state television.

 

Other political and military leaders have made similar threats without offering specifics. Iran, which lies at the mouth of a Gulf oil shipping route, has a range of allied proxy forces in the region through which it could act.

 

The size of the crowds in Tehran, which state media said numbered in the millions, mirrored the masses that gathered in 1989 for the funeral of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

 

Soleimani was a national hero to many Iranians, even those who did not consider themselves supporters of Iran's clerical rulers.

 

Aerial footage showed people packing thoroughfares and side streets, a welcome show of national unity for the government after deadly protests in November.

 

Iran's long-standing demand that US forces quit the region gained traction on Sunday when Iraq's parliament backed a recommendation by the prime minister for all foreign troops to be ordered out.

 

Iraq's rival Shi'ite leaders, including ones opposed to Iranian influence, have united since Friday's attack in calling for the expulsion of US troops. About 5,000 US military personnel are in Iraq, mostly acting as advisers.

 

Soleimani, seen as Iran's second most powerful figure behind Khamenei, built up Iran's network of proxy forces to create a crescent of influence stretching from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Iran. Allies also include Palestinian and Yemeni groups.

 

He mobilized Shi'ite Muslim militia forces that helped crush Islamic State, the Sunni militant group that had seized control of swathes of Iraq and Syria. Washington also blames Soleimani for attacks targeting US forces and their allies.

 

Prayers at his funeral in Tehran, which will later move to his southern home city of Kerman, were led by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wept as he spoke.

 

His daughter Zeinab Soleimani told mourners the United States would face a "dark day" for her father's death.

 

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas, who was making his first trip to Iran since taking up his role in 2017, said at the funeral that "resistance against the American dominance will not be broken."

 

REUTERS

 
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