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40 People Killed in Stampede at Funeral for Iranian General Soleimani

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A stampede on Tuesday at a funeral procession for a top Iranian general killed 40 people and injured 213 others, two Iranian semi-official news agencies reported.

The stampede took place in Kerman, the hometown of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as the procession got underway, said the Fars and ISNA news agencies, citing Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s emergency medical services.

Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike Friday near Baghdad’s airport.

There was no information as to what had set off the stampede. Initial videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road and others shouting and trying to help them. Soleimani’s funeral was later delayed, but no new timing was given.

“Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions,” Koulivand earlier said.

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In delaying Soleimani’s burial, authorities cited concerns about the massive crowd that had gathered, the semi-official ISNA news agency said.

A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over 1 million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main thoroughfares and side streets in Tehran.

Soleimani and his Quds Force were “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more,” according to the Department of Defense.

“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. … He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months — including the attack on December 27th — culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel,” the Pentagon said.

Many in Iran, however, view him as a hero, and his death has sparked calls for revenge against America.

Early Tuesday, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened to “set ablaze” places supported by the United States over Soleimani’s death, sparking cries from the crowd of supporters of “Death to America!” Hossein Salami made the pledge before a crowd of thousands gathered in a central square in Kerman before a casket carrying Soleimani’s remains.

In the wake of Soleimani’s death, Tehran declared it was abandoning the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with then-President Barack Obama and other world leaders.

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Speaking in Kerman, Salami praised Soleimani’s exploits, describing him as essential to backing Palestinian groups, Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria. As a martyr, Soleimani represented an even greater threat to Iran’s enemies, Salami said.

“We will take revenge. We will set ablaze where they like,” Salami said, drawing the cries of “Death to Israel!”

According to a report 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 U.S. He declined to give any details.

“If the U.S. troops do not leave our region voluntarily and upright, we will do something to carry their bodies horizontally out,” Shamkhani said.

President Donald Trump said Iran would seriously regret acting upon its threats.

The U.S. Air Force launched a drill with 52 fighter jets in Utah, just days after the president threatened to hit 52 sites in Iran.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Maritime Administration warned ships across the Mideast, citing the rising threats.

“The Iranian response to this action, if any, is unknown, but there remains the possibility of Iranian action against U.S. maritime interests in the region,” it said.

Oil tankers were targeted in mine attacks last year the U.S. blamed on Iran. Tehran also seized oil tankers around the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20 percent of the world’s crude oil travels.

The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said it would work with shippers in the region to minimize any possible threat.

The 5th Fleet “has and will continue to provide advice to merchant shipping as appropriate regarding recommended security precautions in light of the heightened tensions and threats in the region,” 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Joshua Frey told The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Iranian Gen. Alireza Tabgsiri, the chief of the Guard’s navy, issued his own warning.

“Our message to the enemies is to leave the region,” Tabgsiri said, according to ISNA.

Iran’s parliament, meanwhile, has passed an urgent bill declaring the U.S. military’s command at the Pentagon and those acting on its behalf in Soleimani’s killing as “terrorists,” subject to Iranian sanctions. The measure appears to be an attempt to mirror a decision by Trump in April to declare the Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist organization.”

The U.S. Defense Department used the Guard’s designation as a terror organization in the U.S. to support the strike that killed Soleimani. The decision by Iran’s parliament, done by a special procedure to speed the bill to law, comes as officials across the country threaten to retaliate for Soleimani’s killing.

The vote also saw lawmakers approve funding for the Quds Force with an additional $224 million.

Solemani will ultimately be laid to rest 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 1 million people.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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