RNA - Iraqi people from various governorates flocked to the holy city of Najaf on Friday to pay tribute to al-Muhandis and General Soleimani on the 40th day (called Arba’een) after their martyrdom in a US attack near the Baghdad International Airport.
The Iraqis, coming from Baghdad, Dhi Qar, Basra, Maysan, Karbala, Wasit, Diyala, Nineveh, Saladin, and al-Qadisiyyah governorates, headed to Wadi-us-Salaam cemetery close to the holy shrine of Imam Ali (AS) in Najaf in order to visit the tomb of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
The huge crowds of people chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, carrying the flags of Iraq and anti-terror resistance groups as well as photos of al-Muhandis and General Soleimani.
Several Iraqi TV channels covered the ceremony live from Najaf.
Dozens of such ceremonies have been held in various Iraqi cities since the January 3 US assassination of the Iranian and Iraqi commanders and their comrades.
Also on Friday, a huge number of Pakistanis came all the way from the city of Karachi to the Iranian city of Kerman, where General Soleimani is laid to rest.
The Pakistani mourners believe what General Soleimani has done is unprecedented in the history of mankind, and they feel duty-bound to follow his path.
Earlier on Thursday, thousands of Iranians gathered at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Grand Prayer Grounds (Mosalla) to mark 40 days since the martyrdom of Gen. Soleimani and his companions.
The terrorist US forces assassinated General Soleimani, the former commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), known as Hashed al-Sha’abi in Arabic, and their companions by targeting their car on January 3.
General Soleimani, who had earned reputation as the region’s most popular anti-terror military figure, was on an official visit to the Iraqi capital when the attack took place.
Addressing the ceremony, Brigadier General Esmayeel Qaani, the Quds Force’s new commander, recited parts of Gen. Soleimani’s last will, in which he had advised the Iranian people and politicians to rally behind Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in order to promote the goals of the Revolution.
The top Iranian General also warned various political factions and figures to remain united in order to ward off enemies’ plots, noting that in case of division in the ranks of the nation and political officials, the country and the Islamic establishment as a whole would be damaged irreparably.
In addition to IRGC’s Chief Commander Major General Hossein Salami, IRGC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Ali Fadavi, Commander of the IRGC's Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, Commander of the IRGC's Aerospace Division Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, and the Quds Force’s Deputy Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi were also present at the ceremony.
Further in the ceremony, Major General Hossein Salami addressed the audience, noting that measures taken by the martyred commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force thwarted a US plan for the creation of a new Middle East.
“During the war in Lebanon against Zionists, he was directly present in the battlefield. Living under threat was his art. He stood on the shores of the Mediterranean, so that Muslims would not be at risk…. He thwarted the Americans’ policy for creating a new Middle East,” General Salami said.
When General Soleimani entered the battleground against the Zionists, the Palestinians were fighting the regime using stones, Salami said, adding, “General Soleimani helped turn [the Palestinian territories of] the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and northern Palestine into an arena where fire is erupting against the Zionists.”
This has “forced them to build a wall around themselves. General Soleimani had locked Israel up,” the IRGC chief said.
Salami also pointed to Saturday remarks by Israel’s minister of military affairs Naftali Bennett, who had claimed that Tel Aviv and Washington had divided up the fight against Iran in Syria and Iraq.
The Iranian commander said the American and Israeli regimes were, as ever, mistaken.
“We are telling you this -- and this word of ours is accompanied with action -- that ‘if you take any erroneous action, we will hit you both,’” General Salami emphasized, reminding that the Islamic Republic had, time and again, warned that the Israeli regime should not rely on Washington, as it would either arrive late or not show up at all to defend Tel Aviv.
“You should [instead] definitely look to the sea, because that is going to be your eventual residing place,” he warned the Zionists.
Since General Soleimani’s martyrdom, his character has regenerated itself, breathing new life into both the regional resistance front and Iran’s Islamic Revolution, the IRGC chief noted.
“The US was dealt a slap in the face. But the big and final slap is yet to come, until the last American trooper exits Muslim territories,” he said, noting, “This reality is upon them.”
Soon after General Soleimani’s assassination, Ayatollah Khamenei said Washington was to face a “harsh revenge” for the atrocity.
The IRGC shortly unleashed volleys of ballistic missiles at the US’ Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq’s Anbar Province, which housed US forces. The Leader later described the retaliatory strikes as “only a slap.”
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Pakpour said, “General Soleimani’s path will be pursued until annihilation of all terrorists and expulsion of the Americans from the region.”
“The Americans are terrorists, and we should know that General Soleimani stood up to them,” he noted.
The top commander added, “It was he, who began the fight against terrorism and took the final steps in some stages of that fight,” he added, referring to the former Quds Force commander’s indispensable contribution to Iraq and Syria’s overcoming the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh in late 2017.
The people of the world have borne witness to General Soleimani’s endeavors, and saw well “who and what spectrum of people defeated Daesh,” Pakpour observed.
Also on Thursday, similar mourning gatherings were held in different Iranian cities, including the northeastern city of Mashhad.
Earlier, people in Iraq likewise held a ceremony to commemorate the 40th day since the martyrdom of General Soleimani and the PMU commander, at the site of the drone attack near Baghdad International Airport
According to Fars News Agency, Iraqi mourners condemned the US assassinations, calling for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from their country.
In another ceremony, in Northwestern city of Orumiyeh, Spokesman of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif said that the US assassination of General Soleimani will eventually lead to the expulsion of Washington's troops from the region.
Like the way General Soleimani's mission was to reinforce the Resistance to counter the Zionist regime, his demise, too, was also a help to that cause, General Sharif said.
Lieutenant General Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike on Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on January 3.
The airstrike also martyred Deputy Commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The two were martyred in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.
Five Iranian and five Iraqi militaries were martyred by missiles fired by the US drone at Baghdad International Airport.
On January 8, the IRGC Aerospace Force started heavy ballistic missile attacks on US Ein Al-Assad airbase in Southwestern Iraq near the border with Syria and a US operated airbase in Erbil in retaliation for the US assassination of General Soleimani.
Ein Al-Assad is an airbase with a 4km runway at 188m altitude from sea levels, which is the main and the largest US airbase in Iraq. Early reports said the radar systems and missile defense shields in Ein Al-Assad failed to operate and intercept the Iranian missiles. Unofficial reports said the US army's central radar systems at Ein Al-Assad had been jammed by electronic warfare.
The second IRGC reprisal attack targeted a US military base near Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the second leg of "Martyr Soleimani" reprisal operation.
Iraq said the attacks had not taken any toll from its army men stationed at these two bases. The US army had blocked entrance into Ein Al-Assad to everyone, including the Iraqi army.
It was the first direct attack on the US army ever since world war two.
The IRGC officials said none of the missiles had been intercepted.