Throngs of people as well as ranking government and military officials, including top commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) attended the ceremony, Press TV wrote.
The US targeted Lt. Gen. Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), known as Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic, and their companions outside Baghdad International Airport on January 3.
Soleimani, who had earned reputation as the region’s leading anti-terror military figure, was on an official visit to the Iraqi capital when the attack took place.
Addressing the ceremony, Brigadier General Esmaeil Qaani, the Quds Force’s new commander, urged 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.
Further in the ceremony, IRGC’s Chief Commander Major General Hossein Salami said Lt. Gen. Soleimani’s measures thwarted a US plan for the creation of a new Middle East.
“During the war in Lebanon against Zionists (Israelis), 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,” Salami said.
When General Soleimani entered the battleground, Palestinians were fighting Israel using stones, Salami said. “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 (Israelis).”
This has “forced them to build a wall around themselves. Lt. Gen. Soleimani had locked Israel up,” the IRGC chief said.
Salami also pointed remarks by Israel’s Naftali Bennett, who had claimed last week 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,” Salami emphasized, reminding that the Islamic Republic had, time and again, warned that the Israel 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.
Since Soleimani’s assassination, 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 soldiers exits Muslim territories,” he said, noting, “This reality is upon them.”
After the targeted killing, Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the US was to face a “harsh revenge.”
The IRGC unleashed a volley of ballistic missiles at US forces based in Iraq. Ayatollah Khamenei described the retaliatory strike as “only a slap.”
Expulsion of US forces
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Commander of the IRGC's Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said, Lt. Gen. Soleimani’s path will be pursued “until the annihilation of all terrorists and the expulsion of the Americans from the region.”
“The Americans are terrorists, and we should know that General Soleimani stood up to them,” he noted.
“It was he, who began the fight against terrorism and took the final steps in some stages of that fight,” the commander added, referring to the former Quds Force commander’s indispensable contribution to Iraq and Syria’s overcoming the terrorist group of Daesh in late 2017.
The people of the world have borne witness to Soleimani’s endeavors, and saw well “who and what spectrum of people defeated Daesh,” Pakpour said.
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 assassination of Lieutenant General Soleimani and the PMU deputy commander, at the site of the drone attack.
Iraqi mourners condemned the US assassinations, calling for the withdrawal of US troops from their country.
Following the assassinations, Iraq’s parliament voted in favor of a bill mandating the expulsion of all US-led forces from the country and former prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on Washington to provide the cooperation that was required to enable the withdrawal.