The leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened Hossein Salami on Tuesday to “set ablaze” places supported by the United States over the killing of a top Iranian general Qassim Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike last week, sparking cries from the crowd of “Death to Israel!”
Mourners in Kerman dressed in black carried posters bearing the image of Soleimani, a man who Monday drew Iran’s supreme leader to weep over his casket as a crowd said by police to be in the millions filled Tehran. Although there was no independent estimate, aerial footage suggested a turnout of at least 1 million, and the throngs were visible on satellite images of Tehran taken Monday.
Authorities later brought his remains and those of the others to Iran’s holy city of Qom, turning out another massive crowd.
The outpouring of grief was an unprecedented honour for a man viewed by Iranians as a national hero for his work leading the Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force. The U.S. blames him for the killing of American troops in Iraq and accused him of plotting new attacks just before his death Friday in a drone strike at Baghdad’s airport. Soleimani also led forces in Syria backing President Bashar Assad in a long war, as well as served as the point man for Iranian proxies in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Officials brought Soleimani’s remains and others killed in the airstrike to a central square in the city of Kerman, a desert city surrounded by mountains that dates back to the days of the Silk Road. He’ll be buried in his hometown later Tuesday.
Major Gen. Salami praised Soleimani’s exploits and said as a martyr, he represented an even greater threat to Iran’s enemies.
“We will take revenge. We will ablaze where they like,” Salami said, drawing the cries of “Death to Israel!”