Middle East

Thousands in Iran gather to mourn as Soleimani’s body arrives in hometown of Kerman

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The body of the senior Iranian military commander killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq last week has arrived in his home town of Kerman in southeast Iran for burial, the official IRNA news agency said on Tuesday.

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State TV broadcast live images of thousands of people in the streets of the town, many of them dressed in black, to mourn Qassem Soleimani.

Soleimani was widely seen as Irans second most powerful figure behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 80, who wept in grief along with hundreds of thousands of mourners who thronged the streets of Tehran for Soleimanis funeral on Monday.

Khamenei led prayers at the funeral in the Iranian capital, pausing as his voice cracked with emotion. Soleimani, 62, was a national hero even to many who do not consider themselves supporters of Irans clerical rulers.

He was killed leaving Baghdad airport last Friday.

Mourners packed the streets, chanting: “Death to America!” – a show of national unity after anti-government protests in November in which many demonstrators were killed.

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