TEHRAN/BAGHDAD – Thousands of Iraqis on Sunday clogged an access road near the Baghdad airport where Iran’s legendary anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a U.S. drone stroke in January 2020.
They arrived in hundreds of cars from different parts of the Arab country to participate in a special ceremony held to commemorate Gen. Soleimani and his companions who were martyred in the terrorist act.
Hundreds of makeshift set up along the road served drinks and food, turning the event into a spectacle much seen during mourning processions held for Imam Hussein (AS).
It came a day after Iraqis held a million-man march to mark the second anniversary of the U.S. assassination, with participants and resistance groups pledging to stand firm in demanding the full withdrawal of all American-led forces from their country.
People from across the Arab country descended on the iconic Tahrir Square in the capital to participate in the “million-answer” march attended by top resistance leaders to pay tribute to Gen. Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Qais Khazali, the secretary general of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, said the Americans are trying to justify their military presence on the Iraqi soil, but the resistance will force them to leave “empty-handed and in disgrace”.
He said Soleimani and al-Muhandis were the founders of the Iraqi resistance, adding Iraq managed to defeat the Daesh terrorist group thanks to their efforts.
The participations, in their thousands, chanted “Death to America,” calling for the expulsion of remaining U.S. troops from Iraq.
“We will not let you stay in the land of the martyrs after today,” some of the placards read. “U.S. terrorism has to end,” some other signs read.
In Iran on Sunday, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said a humiliating withdrawal from the region is the first price that the U.S. will have to pay for its assassination of the top anti-terror icons.
IRGC spokesman Ramezan Sharif said the United States must leave other regional countries following its ignominious pullout from Afghanistan.
“The first recompense that the Americans must pay for the assassination of Martyr Soleimani is to leave the region with humiliation,” he said in the northwestern city of Urmia.
“Just as the Americans left Afghanistan with humiliation, they must leave other regional countries,” he added.
The IRGC spokesman also said despite having less personnel and equipment, General Soleimani managed to defeat terrorists, who were armed to the teeth in Syria and Iraq.
“Long before the complete defeat of Daesh and U.S. allies in the region, Haj Qassem had promised to defeat them. This was achieved thanks to his command and knowledge of the enemy front and the strength of the resistance front.”
Gen. Sharif recalled recent remarks by former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who said the Americans had betrayed him. He urged Arab leaders in the region not to rely on the U.S. to avoid a similar fate.
In Tehran, IRGC Quds Force chief General Ismail Qa’ani said Gen. Soleimani reconciled the battlefield and diplomacy.
Addressing a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies, he said one of General Soleimani’s initiatives was to establish interaction and synergy between the diplomatic and military corps in order to better confront the enemies.
“Martyr Soleimani established a very good link between the battlefield and diplomacy and was one of the trailblazers and advocates of this logic,” Qa’ani said, adding his idea has been adopted by other countries.
The Quds Force chief also described Tehran as “the summit of resistance, the Islamic Revolution and the convergence among different sections in Islam”.
“This is the center of proximity and people like Martyr Soleimani were at the forefront of creating unity and convergence,” he added.