Iranians across the country have paid homage to their hero General Haj Qassem Soleimani, a world-renown anti-terror commander who was assassinated by the US in 2020.
People gathered in the southeastern city of Kerman, General Soleimani’s hometown, to pay tribute to the iconic commander.
Similar ceremonies were also held in the Iranian capital, Tehran, and other cities, including Esfahan, Yazd, Birjand, Rasht, Shahr-e Kord and Arak.
General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were martyred along with their companions in a US drone strike on January 3, 2020.
The strike near Baghdad International Airport was authorized by then-US president Donald Trump. Days after his martyrdom, the anti-terror icon’s body was transferred to Iran and was laid to rest in his hometown of Kerman.
The two noted anti-terror commanders were tremendously respected and admired across the region for their instrumental role in fighting and decimating the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
In a Monday statement, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the assassination of the country’s top anti-terror commander is a “glaring example of an organized terrorist act.”
“Indubitable as it is, the criminal act of assassinating General Soleimani, designed and executed by the United States, constitutes yet another glaring example of an ‘organized terrorist act’,” the statement said.
Earlier in the week, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei lauded Soleimani’s sacrifices, saying the anti-terror icon empowered, equipped and revived the resistance front against Israel and the US.
The US assassination drew a wave of condemnation from across the world and triggered huge protests in the region, with Iraqi lawmakers approving a bill days after the US attack calling for expulsion of all US-led foreign military forces in Iraq.
On January 8, 2020, the IRGC targeted the US-run Ain al-Asad base in Iraq’s western province of Anbar with a wave of missile attacks in retaliation for the assassination of General Soleimani.
According to the Pentagon, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrike. The IRGC said Washington used the term to mask the number of Americans killed during the retaliation.
Iran has described the missile attack on Ain al-Assad as a “first slap”.