‘Have you EVER seen such a sea of humanity’: Iranian foreign minister challenges Donald Trump and his ‘clown’ advisers with photos of ‘millions’ at the funeral of slain general Qassem Soleimani
- ‘Have you EVER seen such a sea of humanity in your life, @realdonaldtrump?’ Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted
- He called Trump and his advisers ‘clowns’ for thinking the killing of Soleimani could bring Iran to heel
- Iran has claimed millions attended Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran on Monday, but numbers were not verified
- Zarif will be aware of Trump’s boasts about crowd sizes at his rallies and most notably, his inaugural address
- Later today Trump fired back his own tweet, writing: ‘IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!’
- It comes after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wept over the remains of Soleimani at a funeral march in the capital
- Soleimani died in a drone strike in Iraq on Friday and his remains were flown back to Iran on Sunday night
- His daughter Zeinap directly threatened an attack on U.S. forces as she spoke to the mourners on Monday
Iran’s foreign minister challenged Donald Trump today with pictures of millions packing the streets of Tehran for General Qassem Soleimani’s funeral after he was killed in a US drone strike.
‘Have you EVER seen such a sea of humanity in your life, @realdonaldtrump?’ Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. ‘Do you still want to listen to the clowns advising you on our region? And do you still imagine you can break the will of this great nation? End of malign US presence in West Asia has begun.’
Iranian state media has claimed that millions attended Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran on Monday, although the numbers could not be verified.
Zarif, who is US-educated, will be well aware of President Trump’s frequent boasts about crowd sizes at his rallies in the past and most notably, his inaugural address.
Later Trump fired back his own taunt, tweeting: ‘IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!’
It comes as Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was seen weeping over Soleimani’s coffin as hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered in Tehran for the second day of the commander’s funeral procession.
Speaking to the wailing crowds, Soleimani’s daughter Zeinap directly threatened an attack on U.S. forces in the region. ‘The families of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East will spend their days waiting for death of their children,’ she said to cheers.
Warning of a ‘dark day’ looming for the United States, she said: ‘Crazy Trump, don’t think that everything is over with my father’s martyrdom.’
Iranian state media said ‘millions’ of people had gathered in Tehran to mourn Soleimani’s death in scenes not witnessed since the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989
Zarif, who is US-educated, will be well aware of President Trump’s frequent boasts about crowd sizes at his rallies and most notably, his inaugural address
Pictures from a drone show hundreds of thousands lining the streets of Tehran to Azadi Square for the funeral ceremony of Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Forces, who was killed in a U.S. drone airstrike
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (fourth from left) wept over the remains of Qassem Soleimani as thousands of mourners gathered in Tehran for the second day of the general’s funeral
Mourning: Thousands of people gathered in Tehran for the second day of Qassem Soleimani’s funeral after he was killed in a US drone strike on Friday
A tearful Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left) prayed over the remains of Qassem Soleimani as hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered in Tehran for the second day of the general’s funeral today
The general’s daughter Zeinap Soleimani (pictured today) spoke to mourners during the funeral procession in Tehran and directly threatened an attack on U.S. forces in the region
Iranians set a US and Israeli flag on fire during Monday’s funeral procession for military commander Qasem Soleiman
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (centre) and president Hassan Rouhani (immediately to his right) lead prayers over Soleimani’s coffin. On Khamenei’s left is chief justice Ebrahim Raisi, and to his left is the slain general’s successor Esmail Qaani
Protesters staged a symbolic ‘execution’ of a Donald Trump effigy during the funeral ceremony of Qassem Soleimani
Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport on Friday, shocking the Islamic republic and sending tensions spiralling in the Middle East.
His remains were flown back to Iran last night, carried in a cardboard box which had its own row of seats on a passenger jet.
Iran has vowed ‘severe revenge’ and yesterday abandoned the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal in response to the airstrike, while Trump has threatened a ‘disproportionate response’ targeting cultural sites.
Adding to the tensions, Trump has warned of sanctions against Iraq if it goes through with expelling US troops from the country – a move which could spark an ISIS resurgence there.
As the Middle East teetered on the brink of war:
- Iranian state media said ‘millions’ of people had gathered in Tehran to mourn Soleimani’s death in scenes not witnessed since the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989;
- Soleimani’s replacement as commander of the Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, vowed revenge and said Iran was aiming to ‘get rid of America from the region’;
- Trump threatened Iraq with sanctions after the country’s parliament voted to kick out the 5,000 US troops stationed there, sparking fears of an ISIS resurgence;
- The US president defended his targeting of cultural sites despite Democratic claims that he was preparing to commit war crimes;
- The US-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq said it was pausing its fight against the jihadist group to shore up its own defences against an Iranian reprisal;
- Oil prices jumped to their highest level since September, surpassing $70 per barrel, amid fears that Iran could harass ships in the Strait of Hormuz;
- Rockets landed near the US embassy in Baghdad for the second night in a row, with American troops and diplomats on high alert for Iranian reprisals;
- Germany, France and Britain called for de-escalation and urged Iran to stick by the 2015 nuclear agreement which is now on the brink of total collapse;
- Boris Johnson’s spokesman cautioned against the destruction of cultural heritage and called Iran’s move away from the nuclear deal ‘concerning’ after the PM returned from holiday for crisis talks in London.
Today the supreme leader was flanked by Soleimani’s son, his military replacement Esmail Qaani and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at the funeral in Tehran.
Mourners prayed together with Khamenei whose voice cracked as he prayed over the flag-draped coffin.
Some mourners shouted ‘Death to America’ and burned US and Israeli flags as the coffins of Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader who also died in the drone strike were passed over their heads.
Iranian state TV put the crowd size at ‘millions,’ although that number could not be verified.
The scale of the crowds in Tehran mirrored those who turned out in 1989 for the funeral of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic.
Soleimani will lie in state at Tehran’s famed Musalla mosque as the revolutionary leader did before him. He will eventually be buried in his hometown of Kerman.
Mourners marched towards the university, a key artery in Tehran, and formed a sea of black along Enghelab Street dotted with red Shiite flags and white signs.
The coffin of Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was also killed in Friday’s attack, was draped in the Iraqi flag and passed over the crowds alongside Soleimani’s casket.
‘We must give a crushing response,’ said one of the mourners, a 61-year-old businessman who gave his name as Afkhami.
‘We must target whatever military base they have in the region. We must attack all that are in the range of our missiles.’
One poster held by a mourner read: ‘It is our right to seek a harsh revenge,’ echoing comments by Iranian military and political leaders.
Washington regards Soleimani as a terrorist leader who was plotting against Americans and had the blood of thousands on his hands through his work with Iranian proxies in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
But many Iranians considered Soleimani, a decorated veteran of the eight-year war with Iraq, a national hero, particularly for mobilising Shi’ite Muslim groups in Iraq to help crush the militant Sunni jihadists of ISIS.
Soleimani was also close with Khamenei’s children and the supreme leader had been photographed embracing him in public. The Ayatollah made a rare visit to Soleimani’s home the day he was killed to offer condolences to his grieving widow and grown children.
Coffins of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were seen resting on passenger seats on a jet heading to Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran last night
The flag-draped coffin of Qassem Soleimani is passed over the heads of mourners at his funeral in the centre of Tehran today
Mourners gather in Tehran to pay their respects to a military commander who was hailed as a hero by many Iranians
Soleimani (pictured) was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport on Friday, shocking the Islamic republic and sending tensions spiralling in the Middle East
Thousands of mourners line the streets of Tehran for the funeral procession today, with people waving Iranian and Iraqi flags
Soleimani’s successor Esmail Qaani cries over the coffin of his assassinated predecessor during the funeral in Tehran today
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Soleimani’s long-time lieutenant and successor Esmail Qaani stand by the coffin of the military commander who died on Friday
One funeral organiser has called on every Iranian to donate money towards an $80million bounty on Trump’s head, according to Iranian television.
On Friday Khamenei vowed ‘severe revenge’ as he declared three days of mourning.
Esmail Qaani, who has succeeded Soleimani as commander of the Revolutionary Quards’ powerful Quds Force, also swore revenge in an interview with state TV which was aired today.
‘God the almighty has promised to get his revenge, and God is the main avenger. Certainly actions will be taken,’ he said.
‘We promise to continue down martyr Soleimani’s path as firmly as before with help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to get rid of America from the region.’
American forces are braced for retaliation and the US-led coalition against ISIS said in a statement yesterday that it was pausing its fight against the jihadists to shore up its own defences.
US bases in the region are shoring up their defences and there are also fears that Iran will harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, which is critical to the world’s oil supply.
The global benchmark for crude oil rose above $70 a barrel on Monday for the first time in over three months, with jitters rising over the escalating military tensions.
One Iranian MP also warned of an attack on the White House while an adviser to Hassan Rouhani posted a list of Trump-owned properties in a hint of a possible reprisal.
A former head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards also threatened on Sunday to turn the Israeli cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv ‘to dust’ if the US attacks targets in Iran.
Last night Iranian state TV said the country would no longer respect any of the nuclear limits in the 2015 deal, which Trump abandoned last year but which European powers are desperately trying to preserve.
Under the deal, Tehran had pledged to reduce its nuclear capacities for several years, including by capping its enrichment of uranium at 3.67 percent, far below the more than 90 percent required for a nuclear weapon.
Iran has already overstepped some of the limits since Trump pulled out of the deal last year, which include restrictions on Iran’s supply of centrifuges and the level to which uranium can be enriched.
Last night two rockets landed near the US embassy in Baghdad, the second night in a row that the heavily fortified Green Zone was hit and the 14th time over the last two months that US installations have been targeted.
Iranian troops parade behind a smoke screen from buring incense as crowds gather in Tehran today to pay homage to slain military commander Qasem Soleimani
Khamenei stands at the front of mourners in Tehran today as hundreds of thousands of Iranians turned out to pay tribute
Iranians set a US and an Israeli flag on fire during a funeral procession in Tehran today
Huge crowds of mourners in the streets of Tehran today where Iranians wailed over the death of the general who was killed
Iranian revolutionary guards surround the coffins of slain Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and others who died in Friday’s drone strike
Mourners line the streets of Tehran during Soleimani’s funeral today. Iranian state TV claimed that ‘millions’ were there
Mourners burn flags of the U.S. and Israel during a funeral ceremony for Iranian general Qassem Soleimani today
Friday’s drone attack was ordered by President Donald Trump, who said Soleimani had been planning an ‘imminent’ attack on Americans in Iraq.
In a series of sabre-rattling tweets, Trump has warned that the US will ‘quickly and fully strike back, and perhaps in a disproportionate manner’ if Iran aims fire at US targets.
The president said America had lined up attacks on 52 targets ‘important to Iran and the Iranian culture’, representing the number of Americans held hostage at the US embassy in Tehran after a raid in 1979.
Talking to reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned to Washington last night, Trump stood by his targeting of cultural sites despite claims of potential war crimes.
‘They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,’ Trump said.
Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running for her party’s presidential nomination, said Trump was ‘threatening to commit war crimes’.
The president’s critics have also accused him of launching the attack on Soleimani to boost his popularity before he faces an impeachment trial in the coming weeks.
In Britain, a spokesman for prime minister Boris Johnson issued a warning over Trump’s plans, saying there were international conventions in place to stop the destruction of cultural heritage.
Trump has also warned he will demand billions of dollars in compensation from Iran’s neighbour Iraq or impose ‘sanctions like they’ve never seen before’ if Baghdad goes through with expelling U.S. troops.
The sanctions would make those on Iran look ‘tame’, Trump said, adding: ‘We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there… we’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.’
Iranians carry the coffin during the funeral ceremony of Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Forces, who was killed in a U.S. drone airstrike in Iraq
Mourners gather in Tehran today to pay homage to top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, after he was killed in a US strike in Baghdad ordered by Donald Trump
Iranians burn US and Israeli flags during the funeral ceremony in Tehran today, three days after the military leader’s death
Iranian army cadets hold up posters of military commander Qassem Soleimani as they march during his funeral in Tehran
Yesterday the Iraqi parliament backed a recommendation by the prime minister for all foreign troops to be ordered out – a move which Washington fears could allow an ISIS resurgence.
Iraq’s rival Shi’ite leaders, including those opposed to Iranian influence, have united since Friday’s attack in calling for the expulsion of U.S. troops.
There are around 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, deployed after ISIS seized Mosul in 2014.
Today German foreign minister Heiko Maas said threatening Iraq was ‘not very helpful’. Germany has a small contingent of troops there training Iraqi forces.
Monday’s procession in Tehran comes after Soleimani’s remains were returned to Iran on Sunday.
The Iranian general’s body was marched through the streets of Baghdad, before it was flown to the city of Ahvaz in southwest Iran, where around one million mourners gathered to pay their respects.
A video of the journey posted on social media on Sunday five cardboard boxes resting on seats in the cabin of a passenger jet rather than being loaded into the cargo or baggage compartments.
The Revolutionary Guards said the overwhelming number of mourners in Mashhad forced the cancellation of a ceremony that had been planned in Tehran on Sunday night.
Mourners carry mock coffins with images of US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Iranian revolutionary guards surround the coffins of slain Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and others who were killed in the US attack
Speaking to the crowds which stretched as far as the eye could see (pictured), Soleimani’s daughter Zeinap directly threatened an attack on U.S. forces in the region
Soleimani had long been considered a lethal foe by US lawmakers and presidents, with Trump saying he should have been killed ‘many years ago.’
Tensions between Iran and the West had been ratcheting up for months, peaking last summer when a series of Gulf tankers were hit by mysterious explosions which Washington blamed on Iran.
The last straw was an attack by a pro-Iran mob on the US embassy in Baghdad this week, where demonstrators burned the entrance to the compound and besieged diplomats inside.
Tributes have poured in from across the Middle East and beyond for Soleimani, who was seen as the Islamic republic’s second most powerful person after the supreme leader.
Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Sunday offered his condolences to Khamenei, according to the supreme leader’s official website.
‘Soleimani’s martyrdom caused great sorrow,’ said the statement.
‘His unique role over the years in fighting with Daesh elements in Iraq, and the great pains he endured in this path is unforgettable,’ it said, referring to the Islamic State group.
President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan also paid his respects in a telephone call to Rouhani.
A statement from the Afghan presidential palace said Ghani assured Rouhani that ‘Afghan soil will never be used against any other country’.
Iran could fall back on its regional militant allies or proxies to launch a retaliatory attack, such as Iraqi militiamen, Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The Revolutionary Guard also routinely harasses U.S. Navy vessels in Persian Gulf and surrounding waterways, while Iran has surface-to-sea missile batteries along its coast as well.
Last night the leaders of Britain, France and Germany appealed for a de-escalation.
‘We call on all the players involved to show utmost restraint and responsibility,’ they said in a joint statement.
Boris Johnson is gathering key ministers for crisis talks today as the Iran standoff threatens to spiral out of control – with threats from Tehran to kill British troops.
The PM is back in Downing Street after his Caribbean break, but finds himself walking a tightrope between Donald Trump and other allies who want to ease tensions.
Following massive funeral marches in Iraq, his body was flown to Ahvaz, Iran. Military personnel carry Soleimani’s casket in Iran. A tide of mourners packed the streets of the Iranian city of Ahvaz Sunday to pay respects to the top general
Iranian mourners crowded in to touch the casket and express their grief at the death of the powerful general
The scale of the crowds in Tehran today (pictured) matched those who turned out in 1989 for the funeral of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic
Breaking his silence last night, Mr Johnson said Britain ‘will not lament’ the death of Qassem Soleimani, saying the genreal had played a role in the deaths of thousands of innocent people and was a ‘threat to all our interests’.
But he also appealed to both Trump and Iran for calm, urging both sides to encourage de-escalation, after a senior Iranian commander Iranian issued a chilling warning that British forces could be hit.
Today the PM’s spokesman called Iran’s move away from the 2015 nuclear deal ‘concerning’ and cautioned against the destruction of cultural heritage but said countries such as America a right to act in ‘self-defence’.
A former US ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria said Iranian general Qassem Soleimani ‘deserved’ to die – but criticised the decision not to inform Britain about the strike.
Ryan Crocker told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Literally hundreds of coalition soldiers and marines, mostly Americans, were killed by improvised explosive devices that were manufactured in Iran, used by the Iraqi Shia militia trained by Soleimani, in very deliberate targeting.
‘Britain too lost a number of soldiers in the same attacks. If anybody out there deserved killing, it was Qassem Soleimani.’
But Mr Crocker said he was ‘concerned’ about the White House’s failure to warn allies of its controversial decision to kill Mr Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad last week.
He said: ‘Britain is and has been for a number of years our foremost ally. When we take an action like this it can have great consequences for our allies. We, I think, owe it to them to consult in advance.’
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