QT-Online / Sunday, January 5, 2020 / Categories: Top News Soleimani assassination: Mourners flood the streets as body returns to Iran A sea of mourners swept into the Iranian city of Ahvaz early on Sunday morning to receive the remains of Qasem Soleimani, the general killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad last week. The mourners beat their chests and chanted "death to America". Soleimani was the architect of Iran's sphere of influence across the Middle East and he was considered to be the country's second most powerful man. His assassination marked a significant escalation between Iran and the US. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who had a close personal relationship with Soleimani, warned of "severe revenge" for the attack, and analysts said Iran might pursue cyber attacks against the US or traditional attacks on US targets or interests in the Middle East. President Trump, who authorised the attack on Soleimani on Friday - an option refused by both Presidents Bush and Obama as too risky - said on Saturday the US was ready to strike 52 sites of Iranian interest. In a series of tweets likely to raise concerns about a path to war between the two countries, Mr Trump said the US would strike Iran "VERY FAST AND VERY HARD" if it targeted American bases or troops. The president said the targets represented 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran for more than a year from late 1979 after they were taken from the US embassy in Tehran. Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter, saying that the killing of Soleimani was a breach of international law and that any targeting of cultural sites would be constitute a war crime. Thousands of black-clad mourners gathered early on Sunday morning in the streets in Ahvaz in the southwest of Iran, where Soleimani's body had arrived before dawn. The Irib state news agency showed footage of Soleimani's casket, wrapped in an Iranian flag, being unloaded from a plane as a military band played, before it was flown on to Ahvaz. The channel showed crowds gathered in the city's Mollavi Square, waving flags and holding aloft portraits of Soleimani, who is seen by many in Iran as a hero because of his role as a soldier in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and his closeness to the supreme leader. "A glorious crowd is at the ceremony," said the commentator on IRIB. In the capital Tehran, members of parliament chanted "Death to America" for a few minutes during a session of the house, the ISNA news agency reported. "Trump, this is the voice of the Iranian nation, listen," speaker Ali Larijani was quoted as saying. Previous Article Japan blasts ’unjustifiable’ Ghosn’s escape Next Article Troll wants FBI to investigate Swara Bhasker’s citizenship, she hits back with savage response Print 1265 Rate this article: 2.0 Please login or register to post comments.