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Iran lays 1,000 soldiers to rest from war with Iraq
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posted May 23, 2001 11:09
TEHRAN, May 22 (AFP) - Iran on Tuesday laid to rest 1,000 soldiers from its brutal 1980-1988 war with Iraq in a state funeral that gathered thousands of mourners from across the nation. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mohammad Khatami were among those on hand to honour the victims of the "Iraqi-imposed war" whose remains were only recently discovered.
Their bodies, found in southwestern Iran near the border with Iraq, arrived in Tehran late Monday after criss-crossing the nation over the past two weeks, travelling through some 200 cities in 20 provinces.
Tens of thousands of mourners attended the ceremony, singing verses from the Koran and many weeping for the martyrs of Iran's war with its neighbour, while Khamenei kissed the coffins, each draped with the flag of the Islamic republic.
The funeral was held on the same day as ceremonies marking the anniversary of the death of the prophet Mohammad as well as Hassan, the second imam of Shiite Islam.
Iran regularly holds mass funerals for its war dead, as bodies from the conflict are still being discovered in the former battlefields, many of which remain strewn with mines.
The remains of around 48,000 Iranian soldiers have been discovered since the end of the war, which left hundreds of thousands dead on both sides.
Iran and Iraq have yet to sign a formal peace treaty since the war ended with a UN-brokered cease fire in 1988, but have recently moved toward improving relations.
All times are PT (US)
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