Tehran: Weeping amid wails from a crowd of hundreds of thousands of mourners, Iran’s supreme leader on Monday prayed over the remains of a top Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, an attack that’s drastically raised tensions between Tehran and Washington.
The targeted killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani already has seen his replacement vow to take revenge.
Soleimani’s successor, Esmail Ghaani stood near Khamenei’s side, as did Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other top leaders in the Islamic Republic.
While Iran recently faced nationwide protests over government-set gasoline prices that reportedly killed over 300 people, Soleimani’s mass processionals has seen politicians and leaders across the Islamic Republic’s political spectrum take part, temporarily silencing that anger.
Demonstrators burned Israeli and U.S. flags, carried a flag-draped U.S. coffin or effigies of Trump.
Additionally, Tehran has abandoned the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to the slaying while in Iraq, the parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil.
The developments could bring Iran closer to building an atomic bomb, set off a proxy or military attack launched by Tehran against America and enable the Islamic State group to stage a comeback in Iraq, making the Middle East a far more dangerous and unstable place.
Adding to the tensions, President Donald Trump threatened to demand billions of dollars in compensation from Iraq or impose ``sanctions like they’ve never seen before’’ if it goes through with expelling U.S. troops.
Soleimani’s daughter, Zeinab, directly threatened an attack on the U.S. military in the Mideast while speaking to a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Tehran that stretched as far as the eye could see. Iranian state TV put the crowd size at ``millions,’’ though that number could not be verified.
“The families of the American soldiers in western Asia ... will spend their days waiting for the death of their children,” she said.
Iranian state television and others online shared a video that showed Trump’s American flag tweet following Soleimani’s killing turn into a coffin, the ``likes’’ of the tweet replaced by over 143,000 “killed” with the hashtag #severerevenge.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself prayed over the caskets of Soleimani and others slain in the attack.
Khamenei, who had a close relationship with Soleimani, wept at one point during the traditional Muslim prayers for the dead. The crowd wailed.