Thousands of people turned out to mourn the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose body was returned to Iran after the top military commander was killed in a U.S. drone strike, Reuters reports.

According to the news agency, Soleimani’s body was sent to Ahvaz, Iran, on Sunday. There, thousands reportedly marched dressed in black to mourn his death.

Thousands also marched the day before in Baghdad, Iraq, where Soleimani was killed. There, marchers also chanted “death to America” and held signs reading, “We are all Muhandis and Soleimani,” CNN reports.

President Trump approved the strike that killed Soleimani on Thursday. Trump defended the operation on Friday, saying the U.S. “took action last night to stop a war.” U.S. officials have asserted there was evidence the late general was plotting attacks against Americans. 

“Soleimani was traveling around the region working out a plan to attack Americans with his proxy allies, with Iran’s proxy allies, and Syria and Lebanon and in Iraq,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien said during an appearance on Fox News on Saturday.

“We had the intelligence … that he was in the process of planning these attacks and we acted to defend American lives,” he continued. 

However, a number of Democrats have criticized Trump for not informing top lawmakers about the strike beforehand.

In the wake of Soleimani’s killing, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has vowed a “harsh retaliation is waiting.” In response, Trump said the U.S. is prepared to hit 52 Iranian sites “very fast and very hard” in the event of a retaliation.


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