Huge crowds of mourners have poured onto the streets of Tehran to pay their respects to Qassem Soleimani, the country’s most powerful military commander who was assassinated in a US air attack in Iraq.
State television said on Monday there was a “several million-strong” turnout for the funeral proceedings for Soleimani, who was the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’s (IRGC) overseas forces.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has pledged “severe revenge” for the killing, presided over prayers for the slain general.
Standing next to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, Khamenei wept at one point beside the flag-draped coffins containing the remains of Soleimani and five other “martyrs” killed in Friday’s strike in Baghdad.
“The scenes that we saw included a very emotional supreme leader, which is something that we don’t see very often,” , reporting from Tehran, said.
“There were very intense emotions on display by the highest-ranking officials in the Islamic Republic,” .
“Iranians are very angry at the way he [Soleimani] was killed… They feel that this is a very unjust act that was carried out.”
Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA reported that the streets of the capital were so full of mourners that many were unable to emerge from underground metro stations.
“There are large crowds at metro stations but as there is also a huge crowd at the street level, it isn’t possible to evacuate passengers,” metro chief Farnoush Nobakht was quoted as saying.