01/07/2020, 09.57
IRAN
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Kerman: thousands bury General Soleimani, killed by a US raid

The crowd, wearing black, fill the streets and squares for the last farewell to the high ranking officer. Yesterday in Tehran the funeral ceremony. The great ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who stopped several times out of emotion, led the prayer. The United States denies the Zarif entry visa to participate in the UN Security Council.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The remains of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force killed in a drone raid by the US forces on January 3 in Baghdad, arrived in the hometown of Kerman, in the southeast, for burial today.

The state TV broadcasts live images of thousands of people, mostly dressed in black, who poured through the streets and squares to pay homage to the senior officer. Official sources report that the ceremony will be held between 2pm and 4pm local time.

Addressing the crowd, Divisional General Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of the Guardians of the Revolution (Pasdaran), paid tribute to the figure of the deceased. "The martyr Qasem Soleimani is stronger and more alive than ever, now that he's dead," said Salami, interrupted by those present who responded by intoning the slogan "Death to America". "The enemy killed him in an unjust way," he added, turning to the flower-filled coffin.

The popular mobilization in Kerman follows the two previous days of mourning, which were celebrated on 5 and 6 January in Tehran and other cities of the Islamic Republic, where a three-day national mourning is in effect. The 62-year-old Soleimani was considered the second most popular figure in the country, after the supreme guide the great ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Yesterday the supreme guide led the prayer to the general's funeral, interrupting himself several times with a voice broken by emotion. The military leader was considered by the majority of the population, even among those who do not support religious leaders, a sort of national hero.

According to state television, "millions" of people flocked to the streets of the capital and other cities, for the funeral of Soleimani. A crowd, experts say, comparable only to the mass gathering in 1989 for the funeral of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

In the meantime, the United States would have denied the entry visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was due to attend a United Nations Security Council meeting over the weekend in New York. The meeting will focus precisely on the killing of the Iranian general and the consequences internationally.

Analysts and experts point out that the decision to deny the entry visa is a clear violation of the 1947 agreements on immunity and special permits granted to diplomats to allow them access to the UN Headquarters.

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