Tehran: Hundreds of thousands of mourners poured onto the streets of Tehran Monday to pay their respects to Qassem Soleimani, the country's most powerful military commander who was assassinated in a United States air attack in Iraq.
Holding portraits of the revered general a huge sea of mourners, streaming from all the adjoining streets, descended on the iconic Engelab (Revolution) Square in central Tehran early Monday morning where Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led funeral prayers for the slain military leader.
In freezing early morning temperatures, women dressed in black walked alongside men holding up flags bearing the names of the martyrs of Karbala as they walked down Enghelab Street.
"the name Haj Qassem Soleimani is now shaking the nest of Zionism, Takfirism, and the order of hegemony."
"America and Zionism should know that my father's martyrdom has awakened more human instincts on the resistance front. It will make life a nightmare for them and shatter their spider houses," she said.
Weeping amid wails from a crowd of hundreds of thousands, Ayatollah Khamenei stood next to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran's Speaker of Parliament Ali Larjani, and the head of the Revolutionary Guards.
Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, the new commander of Quds Force and Soleimani's successor, was also in attendance.
"We promise to continue martyr Soleimani's path with the same force ... and the only compensation for us would be to remove America from the region," state radio quoted Qaani as saying.
"The scenes that we saw was a very emotional Supreme Leader, which is something that we don't see very often," reported a correspondent for Al Jazeera from the scene.
"There was very intense emotions on display by the highest ranking officials in the Islamic Republic," she said.
"Iranians are very angry at the way he [Soleimani] was killed ... They feel that this is a very unjust act that was carried out and we're already hearing stories of his death being compared to those of various martyrs in Shia history."
The funeral was also attended by some of Iran's allies in the region, including Ismail Haniya, the leader of Palestinian group Hamas.
"I declare that the martyred commander Soleimani is a martyr of Quds (Jerusalem)," Haniya said while lavishing praises on the late general.
The funeral procession in the capital came a day after hundreds of thousands of mourners accompanied the coffin carrying Soleimani's remains in the cities of Ahvaz and Mashhad. The multi-city ceremony will continue with Soleimani's remains going to the holy city of Qom before his burial on Tuesday in his hometown of Kerman.