‘General of the Hearts’ honored from southwest to northeast

January 5, 2020 - 22:38

TEHRAN – Millions of angry mourners from all walks of life participated in separate funeral ceremonies held in the southwestern city of Ahvaz and the northeastern city of Mashhad on Sunday for Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani who was martyred in a U.S. air raid in Baghdad on Friday morning.

The funeral processions to honor the IRGC Quds Force chief first started in the city of Ahvaz early on Sunday, hours after his remains arrived from Iraq.

The mourners dressed in black were holding flags in green, white and red - depicting the blood of "martyrs", while others held portraits of the assassinated legendary commander.

The U.S. airstrike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU). Both Soleimani and Muhandis were popular figureheads in helping squelch an ominous rise of Daesh which once came as close as 30 km to Baghdad, while the U.S. withdrew troops from Iraq and looked on.

On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of thousands of people attended the mourning procession of General Soleimani in the shrine city of Mashhad.

People, including the young, old, men, and women, flocked to the city of Mashhad from different cities of Khorassan Razavi province to bid farewell to Soleimani, who has been called "the General of the Hearts".

Brigadier General Esmaeil Qa’ani, the newly-appointed commander of the IRGC Quds Force, addressed the elaborate funeral procession in Mashhad.

A similar huge funeral ceremonies were held in the Iraqi cities of Kadhimiya, Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf for General Soleimani and Muhandis. Iraqi dignitaries including Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi participated in the funeral procession in Baghdad.

Observers say Iraqis’ massive turnout in the Saturday funeral is both a testimony to Soleimani’s popularity among many Iraqis and a message to the U.S. which made its stay in the Arab country more unwelcome with the extrajudicial killing.

The Iraqi parliament voted on Sunday for a resolution to ask the government to end the agreement to host U.S. troops in Iraq.

Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi also told parliament that Soleimani was due to meet him the day he was assassinated and deliver a response from the Iranians to a Saudi message which could have led to a de-escalation of tensions in the region, according to Reuters news agency.

Iraqi officials have also summoned the U.S. envoy to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, over the airstrikes. "[The airstrikes] were a blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty," the Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement, and "contradict the agreed-upon missions of the international coalition."
Iraq's Foreign Ministry also lodged an official complaint with the UN Secretary General and Security Council over the U.S. air strikes on Sunday.

Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi, who was in attendance in parliament on Sunday, urged parliament to end the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.

"Despite the internal and external difficulties that we might face, it remains best for Iraq on principle and practically," he told MPs, according to DW.

The Pentagon had announced that General Soleimani was assassinated on Donald Trump’s order.

According to the New York Times, the top Iranian general was killed when an American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the airport.

MJ/PA

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