BAGHDAD – Thousands of mourners on Saturday participated in a funeral of Qasem Soleimani, a senior Iranian commander, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces, who were killed in an US airstrike in Iraq’s capital Baghdad.
The procession of military vehicles carrying the coffins were surrounded by thousands of mourners chanting anti-US slogans in the holy Shiite district of Kadhmiyah in northern Baghdad.
Later on, the funeral procession headed to Jaderiyah district in southern Baghdad.
The funeral was held under tight security measures and many of Baghdad’s main roads and bridges were blocked in advance to protect the mourners.
The procession is scheduled to visit the holy Shiite city of Karbala before heading to the nearby holy city of Najaf, some 160 km south of Baghdad, where the dead will be buried in the huge Wadi al-Salam cemetery.
Early on Friday, a US drone attack ordered by President Donald Trump killed Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and the Iraqi militia commander al-Muhandis.
The attack took place on the road leading to Baghdad International Airport.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have vowed to retaliate against the United States over Soleimani’s death.
Friday’s attack came just days after Iraqi protesters stormed the US embassy in Baghdad over the US air raids on Dec 29 against five bases of Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria that claimed the lives of 25 militants.