- Hundreds of thousands of mourners are expected to turn out to the funeral procession of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Saturday.
- Soleimani was killed by a US airstrike outside Baghdad airport on Thursday evening, massively escalating the tensions between Iran and the US.
- The funeral is also for the others killed in the strike, including Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
- Soleimani’s remains will be returned to Iran on Sunday morning, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will lead a prayer ceremony for him in Tehran.
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Thousands of people started lining the streets of Baghdad on Saturday ahead of the funeral of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed by a US drone strike on Thursday evening.
Soleimani was the commander of the elite Quds military force, and was instrumental in much of Iran’s foreign policy in the Middle East, including sending Iranian troops to support President Assad in Syria. His killing triggered three days of official national mourning.
The airstrike ordered by US President Trump has led to a huge escalation in the tensions between the US and Iran, with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promising „harsh retaliation.“ Trump said on Friday that he ordered the strike to „stop a war“ rather than to start one. The US Department of Defense said on Thursday that it had received intelligence Soleimani was planning attacks on Americans.
Saturday’s funeral is not just for Soleimani. Others killed in the airstrike included Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was deputy commander of Iraq’s paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).
The procession has been organised by the PMF, and per the Guardian hundreds of thousands of mourners are expected to attend. The procession will begin in Baghdad’s hevily fortified Green Zone before moving towards the Shiite holy cities of Kerbala and Najaf.
Soleimani’s remains will then be returned to Iran on Sunday morning, and he will be buried in his home town of Kerman. Iranian state media also reported the Ayatollah Khamenei will lead a prayer ceremony in Tehran in honor of Soleimani.
Earlier on Saturday the PMF announced that more airstrikes had hit near camp Taji in the north, killing six people. Iraqi state media said the airstrikes were American, but the The US-led coalition fighting Islamic State issued a statement denying any involvement.
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