In a ceremony at Tehran University attended by government officials Monday morning, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei prayed over the remains of Major General Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a U.S. drone attack in Baghdad three days ago.
The ceremony was attended by top officials of the Iranian government, military commanders, some Islamic ambassadors, and other foreign envoys. The leader of Palestinian Hamas Esmail Haniya also attended the ceremony and delivered a speech in which he called Soleimani a "martyr of Qods".
Haniyeh vowed that Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, will follow Soleimani’s path against Israel and the United States.
The Iranian Supreme Leader shed tears and stopped several times during the recitation of the last prayer for the fallen Qods Force commander and the others who were killed in the attack on the early hours of Friday including the second-in-command of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Soleimani's successor, Esmail Ghaani and the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other top leaders in the Islamic Republic were standing on Khamenei's side while he prayed over the caskets.
A group of Shiite Afghan militia organized by Soleimani in 2014 to fight in Syria known as Fatemiyoun Division or Hezbollah Afghanistan have also been mourning Soleimani among the Iranian crowds. The Afghan militia members are carrying their distinctive yellow banners.
Soleimani's daughter Zainab addressed Khamenei in a speech before the prayer and said her father was proud of being Khamenei's devoted soldier. The killing of her father and his Iraqi companions has forged a "historical union" between the peoples of Iran and Iraq, she said.
Massive crowds some of whom carried posters of Soleimani, placards reading #HARSH-REVENGE as well as Iranian and Iraqi flags chanted slogans against the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The crowds had gathered in the streets leading to Tehran University since early morning to mourn Soleimani. They recited the prayer along with the Supreme Leader. Iranian news agencies and the state-run television (IRIB) which has been streaming the ceremony live say millions have attended the funeral ceremony in Tehran.
It is difficult to have an independent estimate of crowd size in Iran, due to government control over the media. However, the Islamic Republic is known for bringing people to its rallies, even busing in thousands from provinces.
The government had announced that all government offices and schools would be closed on Monday for the funeral ceremony. The bazaar of Tehran has also closed down for the day.
Many of the mourners had travelled to the capital Tehran from other provinces. Number plates of many cars parked in the streets show they had come from Alborz, Qazvin and Zanjan provinces, the Revolutionary Guards-affiliated Tasnim News Agency reported.
Soleimani's remains will be taken to the holy city of Qom later today before being flown to Kerman, his birthplace, to be buried according to his wish.