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Tens of thousands rally in Iran capital against US 'crimes'

US strikes killed a top Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad on Friday.

FILE: Protesters shout slogans against the United States and Israel as they hold posters with the image of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a demonstration in the Kashmiri town of Magam on 3 January 2020. Picture: AFP.

TEHRAN - Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Tehran to protest against American "crimes", an AFP correspondent reported, after US strikes killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad on Friday.

Chanting "Death to America" and holding up posters of the slain commander, Qasem Soleimani, the demonstrators filled streets for several blocks in central Tehran after Friday prayers.

Iran's supreme leader named the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations arm Esmail Qaani to replace Soleimani.

"Following the martyrdom of the glorious general haj Qasem Soleimani, I name Brigadier General Esmail Qaani as the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement posted on his official website.

Qaani was described by Khamenei as one of the "most decorated commanders" of the Guards during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

"The orders for the (Quds) force remain exactly as they were during the leadership of martyr Soleimani," said the supreme leader.

"I call on the members of the force to be present and cooperate with General Qaani and wish him divine prosperity, acceptance and guidance," he added.

Meanwhile, the Nato military alliance was monitoring the situation in Iraq closely Friday with an eye to the safety of its training mission there after US forces killed an Iranian general.

Nato maintains a limited presence in Iraq ro train government security forces and the alliance was not involved in the attack on Soleimani at Baghdad international airport.

"Nato is monitoring the situation in the region very closely. We remain in close and regular contact with the US authorities," spokesman Dylan White told AFP.

"At the request of the Iraqi government, Nato's training mission in the country is helping to strengthen the Iraqi forces and prevent the return of ISIS," he said.

"The safety of our personnel in Iraq is paramount. We continue to take all precautions necessary."

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