Huge crowds in Iran for commander’s funeral, daughter warns U.S. of ‘dark day’
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians thronged Tehran’s streets on Monday for the funeral of military commander Qassem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. drone strike last week, and his daughter said his death would bring a “dark day” for the United States.
“Crazy Trump, don’t think that everything is over with my father’s martyrdom,” Zeinab Soleimani said in an address broadcast on state television.
U.S. President Donald Trump had ordered Friday’s attack that killed the general, the architect of Iran’s drive to extend its influence across the region. Iran has promised to avenge his death.
The size of the crowds in Tehran, shown on television and which state media said numbered in the millions, mirrored the masses that gathered in 1989 for the funeral of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Soleimani was a national hero to many Iranians, even those who did not consider themselves devoted supporters of Iran’s clerical rulers.
In response to Iran’s warnings of retaliation, Trump has threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites, including cultural targets, if Tehran attacks Americans or U.S. assets, deepening a crisis that has heightened fears of a new Middle East conflagration.
The coffins of Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was also killed in the strike, were passed across the heads of mourners chanting “Death to America”.
Aerial footage showed crowds packed thoroughfares and sidestreets in central Tehran, a welcome show of national unity for the government after deadly protests in November.
One of Iran’s main regional goals – driving U.S. forces out of neighboring Iraq – came a step closer on Sunday when the Iraqi parliament backed a recommendation by the prime minister for all foreign troops to be ordered out.
“Despite the internal and external difficulties that we might face, it remains best for Iraq on principle and practically,” Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said.
Iraq’s rival Shi’ite leaders, including ones opposed to Iranian influence, have united since Friday’s attack in calling for the expulsion of U.S. troops. About 5,000 U.S. military personnel are in Iraq, mostly acting as advisers……..read more