A mock funeral procession marked the anniversary of the assassination of Iran’s top general and a senior Iraqi militia leader in a US drone strike that heightened fears of a military escalation in the region.
Thousands of mourners joined the march on the highway leading to the Baghdad airport Saturday evening where the strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis took place.
Soleimani’s killing dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the region and brought the US and Iran to the brink of war.
Posters of the dead men adorned both sides of the road, which was lined with tents that served food and drinks for those who walked the highway. The scene of the bombing was turned into a shrine-like area sealed off by red ropes, with a photo of Soleimani and al-Muhandis in the middle, as mourners lit candles.
Shrapnel marks were still visible on the asphalt and walls in the area.
Soleimani headed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, responsible for Iran’s foreign operations.
The procession came as Iraq’s military said that explosives experts with its naval forces successfully dismantled a mine that was discovered stuck to an oil tanker in the Arabian Gulf two days earlier.