Millions of Iranian mourners have taken part in a funeral procession for the late commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Quds Force Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his companions, including the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
In all, 10 people -- five Iraqis and five Iranians -- were assassinated in the US strike on their motorcade just outside Baghdad airport early Friday.
The remains of anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani and his companions arrived in Iran from neighboring Iraq earlier on Sunday.
A massive funeral procession was held early Sunday in Ahvaz, the main city in Iran's eight-year battle against the forces of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein which shaped Soleimani's future as an austere military tactician.
From Ahvaz, the cortege headed to the holy city of Mashhad in Iran’s northeast.
Both Soleimani and Muhandis were popular figureheads in helping squelch an ominous rise of Daesh which once came as close as 30 km to Baghdad, while the US withdrew troops from Iraq and looked on.
Images of the Iranian commander along with Iraqi fighters at frontlines as the ferocious battle against Daesh terrorists went on are endearingly etched in the minds of many Iraqis.
Their massive turnout in Saturday’s funeral is both a testimony to Soleimani’s popularity among many Iraqis and a message to the US which made its stay in the Arab country more unwelcome with the extrajudicial killing, observers said.