Iraqi Mourners Join Martyr Soleimani Funeral Procession
IRAN NEWS NATIONAL DESK
According To Iran News, Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis chanting “Death to America” have joined the funeral procession for Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi anti-terror forces chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad.
The U.S. assassination of the two commanders at Baghdad airport in the early hours of Friday has triggered a wave of rage among Iranians and Iraqis, and forged an unprecedented unity with vociferous calls for revenge.
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.
Images of the Iranian commander tagging along with Iraqi fighters at frontlines as the ferocious battle against Daesh terrorists went on are endearingly etched in the minds of many Iraqis.
Their massive turnout in Saturday’s 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, observers say.
On Saturday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi joined Muhandis associate Hadi al-Ameri, senior cleric Ammar al-Hakim and other important figures in a large crowd accompanying the coffins.
Ameri, who has been named as the successor to Muhandis, and many other Iraqi leaders have called on all factions in Iraq to unite and expel foreign troops.
“We call on all national forces to unify their stance in order to expel foreign troops whose presence has become pointless in Iraq,” Ameri told national television on Friday.
The cortege set off around Kadhimiya, a pilgrimage district of Baghdad, before heading to the Green Zone government and diplomatic district where a state funeral was to be held attended by top dignitaries.
The convoy snaked its way through a sea of black-clad mourners, some of whom carried portraits of Iran’s Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
The bodies of the Iranians were to be flown on Saturday evening to Iran, which has declared three days of mourning for Gen. Soleimani. His funeral is to be held on Tuesday in his hometown of Kerman in central Iran. His funeral possession will be held in Tehran on Monday.
Meanwhile Afghanistan’s second vice president has hailed Soleimani as a “prominent figure” in the battle against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, saying his assassination has complicated the situation in the region.
Muhammad Sarwar Danish made the remarks in Kabul on Saturday. The official also expressed hope that the latest developments would have no negative effects on Afghanistan’s peace process, demanding all sides to exercise restraint in a bid to maintain calm in the region.
On Friday, the Afghan government voiced worries about an escalation of violence in the region.
“We call on the Islamic Republic of Iran, our big neighbor, with whom we have extensive common language, religious, historic and cultural [values], and we call on the U.S., who is Afghanistan’s strategic and fundamental partner, to prevent conflict escalations, and we hope that both sides solve their differences through negotiations,” read an Afghan presidential statement.
Separately, Afghanistan’s chief executive of the National Unity Government lamented the U.S. assassination of Soleimani.
“We express our condolence about this occurrence to Sardar Soleimani’s family, the government and people of Iran,” Abdullah Abdullah wrote on his Facebook page.
Abdullah also said, “As a victim of terrorism and violence, Afghanistan calls for de-escalation of regional and international relations and hopes the latest incidents won’t negatively affect the situation and cooperation of our friends and allies in Afghanistan.”
Also on Friday, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai condemned the U.S. strike and extended his condolences to the Iranian government and people, describing Soleimani as a “dignified man who sought peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
Karzai stressed in a statement that the targeted attack violated international laws and risked regional peace and stability.