Iran’s president on Tuesday vowed to avenge the killing of the country’s top general on the third anniversary of his death, as the government rallied its supporters in mourning amid months of anti-government protests.
Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s regional military activities, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in neighboring Iraq. He is hailed as a national icon among supporters of Iran’s theocracy, while the protesters have torn down billboards and defaced other images of him.
Addressing a ceremony marking the general’s death, President Ebrahim Raisi said those behind it “should know that retaliation is obvious,” adding that “there will be no relief for murderers and accomplices.”
He said Soleimani had defeated “U.S. hegemony” and praised him for his role in leading Iran-backed forces against the Islamic State extremist group. Soleimani was also mourned in neighboring Iraq alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia leader killed in the same strike. Iranian-backed militias make up the bulk of Iraq’s state-supported Popular Mobilization Forces.