The assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani by U.S. air raids has triggered a wave of emotions across Iran.
Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force and mastermind of its regional influence, was killed early on Friday near Baghdad’s international airport in an air strike ordered by US President Donald Trump.
IRGC officials, clerics, ministers, members of parliament, and the business community reacted in unison and hailed the commander as a fallen hero.
Gatherings are being organised in Tehran and across the country after Friday prayers to commemorate Soleimani and denounce the US and Israel.
State broadcaster IRIB and radio channels were allotting almost their entire broadcast time to news of Soleimani’s assassination and programmes commemorating him. All television presenters wore black and a black strip adorned the top corner of the screens.
Soleimani was the most popular political figure in Iran.
All comedy films slated to be shown in cinemas were postponed and all music concerts were temporarily suspended.
A major passageway in Tehran, which has yet to be announced, will be named after Soleimani.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei paid tribute to him as a “martyr” and promised to exact “harsh revenge”.
He announced three days of national mourning in honour of Soleimani, who was widely believed to be the second-most powerful figure in Iran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani echoed the threat of revenge and vowed that there would be consequences. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif condemned the killing as an “act of state terrorism” in a statement.