TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader wept Monday over the casket of a top general killed in a U.S. airstrike, his prayers joining the wails of mourners who flooded the streets of Tehran demanding retaliation against America for a slaying that’s drastically raised tensions across the Middle East.
The funeral for Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani drew a crowd said by police to be in the millions in the Iranian capital, filling thoroughfares and side streets as far as the eye could see. Although there was no independent estimate, aerial footage and Associated Press journalists 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 honor 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.
His slaying already has pushed Tehran to abandon the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as his successor and others vow to take revenge. In Baghdad, the parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil, something analysts fear could allow Islamic State militants to mount a comeback.
Soleimani’s daughter, Zeinab, directly threatened the U.S. military in the Middle East while also warning President Donald Trump, whom she called “crazy.”
“The families of the American soldiers … will spend their days waiting for the death of their children,” she said to cheers.
Her language mirrored warnings by other Iranian officials who say an attack on U.S. military interests in the Middle East looms. Iranian state TV and others online shared a video that showed Trump’s American flag tweet following Soleimani’s killing turn into a coffin, the “likes” of the tweet replaced by over 143,000 “killed.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prayed over the caskets of Soleimani and others at Tehran University after a brief mourning period at the capital’s famed Musalla mosque.