…Mourners surround a car carrying the coffin of Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
A huge crowd in Iraq’s capital Baghdad is taking part in a funeral procession for the Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US airstrike on Thursday.
Soleimani was the architect of Iran’s Middle East operations and Iran vowed to take “severe revenge” for his death.
The gathering in Baghdad on Saturday marked the beginning of days of mourning for Soleimani.
His body is to be returned to Iran for a funeral and burial in his home town.
The crowds in Baghdad were also there to mourn the death of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi who commanded the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah group and effectively led the Popular Mobilisation units – an umbrella of militias in Iraq dominated by groups aligned with Iran.
Mourners started gathering in Baghdad from the early hours, ahead of the start of the procession, waving Iraqi and militia flags and chanting “death to America”. The procession snaked though the streets, some carrying portraits of Soleimani and some of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Reports said the bodies of the Iranians would then be flown on Saturday evening to Iran, which has declared three days of mourning for the murdered general. His funeral is to be held on Tuesday in his hometown of Kerman in central Iran.
Some Iraqis, conversely, celebrated in Baghdad’s streets at the news of Soleimani’s death. He was accused of orchestrating violent crackdowns on peaceful pro-democracy protests there in recent months.