Mourners hold photos of former President Hosni Mubarak Wednesday during his funeral in Cairo, Egypt. Photo by Mohamed Elbendary/EPA-EFE
Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was honored Wednesday with a military funeral that began three days of national mourning for the 91-year-old leader.
Mubarak, who ruled for 29 years before he was ousted during the 2011 "Arab Spring" protests, died Tuesday after he became ill following surgery at a military hospital in Cairo.
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi attended Wednesday's funeral at the El-Mosheer Tantawy Mosque and Mubarak's sons, Gamal and Alaa, led their father's funeral at the mosque.
"The presidency deeply mourns former president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak for his services to the country as a commander, and one of the heroes of the great October War," al-Sisi said in a statement.
"Mubarak was commander of the Air Forces during the war that restored dignity and pride to the Arab nation."
After the funeral, Mubarak's body will be taken by helicopter from the mosque to its final resting place at the family tomb.
Mubarak's death has evoked a mixed reaction among Egyptians, who view him as both a celebrated military leader and a strongman ruler.
"Mubarak will be remembered by Egyptians in probably a very polarizing fashion," H.A. Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said. "For his fans, he was a war hero, but the regime Mubarak built meant repression and economic dysfunctionality. And that all led to the 2011 revolutionary uprising, which ultimately led to his ouster."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hailed Mubarak for his support and he mourned his death "with great sorrow."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Mubarak "a personal friend of mine" and lauded his efforts toward Mideast peace.