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Iraq's prime minister joins mourners in Baghdad for funeral of top Iranian general killed by US

Thousands of Iraqis chanted “Death to America” as they joined the funeral procession for General Qassem Soleimani.
Jan 4th 2020, 7:51 AM 27,061 56

Updated Jan 4th 2020, 11:01 AM

iraq-soleimani Mourners gather for a funeral procession for General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad Source: AP/PA Images

IRAQ’S PRIME MINISTER attended a mourning procession in Baghdad for Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed in a US strike the previous day.

PM Adel Abdel Mahdi joined thousands of mourners who gathered for a funeral procession through Iraq’s capital Baghdad for Iran’s top general and other militants killed in a US airstrike.

Earlier, the crowd had chanted ‘Death to America’ as they joined the funeral procession for Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, both killed in a US air strike at an Iraqi airport.

The cortege set off around Kadhimiya, a Shiite pilgrimage district of Baghdad, before heading to the Green Zone government and diplomatic compound 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 supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some also carried Iraqi flags and the flags of Iran-backed militias that are fiercely loyal to General Soleimani.

In all, 10 people – five Iraqis and five Iranians – were killed in yesterday morning’s US strike on their motorcade just outside Baghdad airport.

The bodies of the Iranians will then be flown this evening to Iran, which has declared three days of mourning for Soleimani.

His funeral is to be held on Tuesday in his hometown of Kerman in central Iran.

qassem-soleimani-killed-in-a-u-s-airstrike-near-baghdad Qassem Soleimani began his military career in the beginning of the Iraq War of the 1980s. Source: SalamPix/ABACA

General Soleimani was the head of Iran’s elite Quds force and mastermind of its regional security strategy.

Qassem Soleimani, began his military career in the beginning of the Iraq War of the 1980s, during which he commanded the 41st Division of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps.

He was later involved in extraterritorial operations, providing military assistance to anti-Saddam Shia and Kurdish groups in Iraq, and later Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government, a key Iranian ally, during the Syrian Civil War, particularly in its operations against Isis and its offshoots. Soleimani also assisted in the command of combined Iraqi government and Shia militia forces that advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) in 2014-2015.

Iran has vowed harsh retaliation, raising fears of an all-out war.

Tit-for-tat

A pro-Iran mob this week attacked the US embassy in Iraq on New Year’s Eve, following deadly American air strikes on a hardline Hashed faction.

The US had ordered the strikes in response to a rocket attack days earlier that killed an American contractor working in Iraq.

The Pentagon said Soleimani had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the past months, including on 27 December, the day the contractor was killed.

“General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week,” it said.

US President Donald Trump says he ordered the strike to prevent a conflict, and that Soleimani “made the death of innocent people his sick passion”.

“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” he said.

- with reporting from AFP and the Press Association

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