32 Killed, Many Others Injured At Funeral Of Iran General Qasem Soleimani After Stampede Breaks out
Dozens of people have been killed during a stampede at the funeral procession of an Iranian general killed in a US air strike. Iranian state TV confirmed the deaths at the event to honour Qasem Soleimani who died in a drone strike last week Friday on the orders of US President Donald Trump.
Soleimani’s body arrived back in his home town of Kerman in southeast Iran for burial where thousands lined the streets, many dressed in black. State TV quoted the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Koulivand, saying there had been a deadly stampede. It is believed 32 people have been killed and 190 people injured during the event on Tuesday afternoon local time.
Soleimani was widely seen as Iran’s second most powerful figure behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 80. He was killed at Baghdad airport in a move that has sparked fears of all-out war between the rogue Middle East country and the US. His remains have now been brought back to a central square in Kerman, a desert city surrounded by mountains. At today’s funeral, Hossein Salami, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened to ‘set ablaze’ places supported by the United States. He roared: ‘We will take revenge. We will set ablaze where they like.’ The crowd then erupted in chants of ‘America is the great Satan’ and ‘death to Israel.’ Yesterday more than one million people turned out in the streets of Iran’s capital Tehran to honour Soleimani, who was the head of the elite Quds Force.
The US blames him for the killing of American troops in Iraq and accused him of plotting new attacks. Soleimani also led forces in Syria backing President Bashar Assad in a long war, and he also served as the point man for Iranian proxies in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. His death has already has pushed Tehran to abandon the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as his successor and others vow to take revenge. In Baghdad, the parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil, something analysts fear could allow Islamic State militants to mount a comeback. The UK and other Western powers have urged for a de-escalation of violence.
According to a report on Tuesday by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Iran has worked up 13 sets of plans for revenge for Soleimani’s killing. The report quoted Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying that even the weakest among them would be a ‘historic nightmare’ for the US but declined to give any details. He said: ‘If the U.S. troops do not leave our region voluntarily and upright, we will do something to carry their bodies horizontally out.’ Solemani will be buried later on Tuesday between the graves of Enayatollah Talebizadeh and Mohammad Hossein Yousef Elahi, two former Guard comrades. The two died in Operation Dawn 8 in Iran’s 1980s war with Iraq in which Soleimani also took part, a 1986 amphibious assault that cut Iraq off from the Persian Gulf and led to the end of the bloody war that killed one million people.