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An emotional Khamenei shows Iran general's death is personal

Police said attendees numbered into the millions at the funeral of Gen. Qassem Soleimani
Credit: AP
In this image taken from video, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei openly weeps as he leads a prayer over the coffin of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone strike on Friday, at the Tehran University campus, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (Iran Press TV via AP)

Iran's supreme leader has cried openly at the funeral of his top general, killed in a recent U.S. drone strike. It was a rare display of emotion Monday from the typically reserved and measured Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

His voice cracked under the weight of the moment, during a funeral procession unlike any in Iran's recent history. Police said attendees numbered into the millions. 

“Oh Allah, they are in need of your mercy, and you are exalted above punishing your servants,” Khamenei said during a mass prayer, as he stood over a flag-draped casket with Gen. Qassem Soleimani's remains.

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The funeral showcased the depth of the bond Khamenei had with the slain general and gave insight into how Soleimani's death is being felt personally by the supreme leader. It could also impact how Khamenei responds to the United States.  

Trump announced last week that he ordered an airstrike that killed Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force. He said the general had been plotting “imminent and sinister” attacks, but has not provided details about what those plans were.

The aftermath of the airstrikes has prompted fears of retaliation. The official replacing Soleimani has vowed revenge and Soleimani's daughter sent a warning Monday to the families of U.S. troops that they may be targeted. 

“The families of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East will spend their days waiting for death of their children,” Zeinab Soleimani said, according to AP, which was met with cheers from the crowd.

Iran also announced Sunday it was abandoning the remainder of its responsibilities to the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement. Trump announced on May 8, 2018, that the U.S. was leaving the agreement and imposing economic sanctions. As late as March 4, 2019, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran was still adhering to that accord. But in recent months, Iran had announced it was starting to take steps away from compliance.

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