Iranians gathered in Kerman for the burial of top general Qasem Soleimani in the final stage of funeral processions after he was killed in a US strike in Iraq.
There was a large number of mourners in the hometown of the slain commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations arm appeared to match the huge turnout seen in the cities of Tehran, Qom, Mashhad and Ahvaz.
A hugely popular figure in the Islamic republic, Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on Friday in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed “severe revenge”.
“The enemy killed him unjustly,” the Revolutionary Guards’ top commander, Major General Hossein Salami said, adding the process of “expelling the United States from the region has begun”.
“Our will is firm. We also tell our enemies that we will take revenge, and that if they (strike again) we will set fire to what they love,” he told the sea of black-clad mourners.
“They themselves know well what places I am talking about.”
Schoolgirls joined chants of “Death to Trump” from the crowd, an AFP correspondent reported.
The assassination of Soleimani set off an escalating war of words between Iran and the United States.
In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani on Monday warned Trump to “never threaten” Iran, after the US leader issued a US strike list of 52 targets in the Islamic republic.
On Tuesday, Iranian lawmakers voted to designate all US forces around the world “terrorists” over Soleimani’s killing.
Parliament also agreed to bolster the coffers of the Quds Force, which Soleimani led, by $244 million (200 million euros).