Monday, 24 Feb 2020

Funeral Stampede Kills 56

A stampede broke out at the funeral for Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the top Iranian general slain in a U.S. airstrike, and at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands joined the procession thru the streets of his hometown of Kerman, Iran.

No reason has been cited for the Stampede during the funeral procession except that there were thousands of mourners crowded in the streets.

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As result, Soleimani’s burial was delayed.

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A similar procession in Tehran drew over 1 million people crowding both main avenues and side streets in Tehran.

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The funeral processions in major cities over the three days have been an unprecedented honor for Soleimani, viewed by Iranians as a national hero for his work leading the Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force.

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Soleimani will ultimately be laid to rest between the graves of Enayatollah Talebizadeh and Mohammad Hossein Yousef Elahi, two former Guard comrades killed in Iran’s 1980s war with Iraq. The two died in Operation Dawn 8 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.

Earlier in the day, Hossein Salami, the new leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, vowed to avenge Soleimani’s death as he addressed a crowd of supporters gathered at the coffin in a central square in Kernan.

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In his eulogy to the crowd, Salami praised Soleimani’s work, describing him as essential to backing Palestinian groups, Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria. Salami said, as a martyr, Soleimani represented an even greater threat to Iran’s enemies.

Salami said, “We tell our enemies that we will retaliate but if they take another action, we will set ablaze the places that they like and are passionate about.”

Death to Israel!” the crowd shouted in response. Israel is a longtime regional foe of Iran.

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Soleimani’s death has sparked calls across Iran for revenge against America.

The U.S. blames Soleimani for killing U.S. troops in Iraq and accused him of plotting new attacks just before he was killed in the drone strike near Baghdad’s airport. Soleimani also led forces supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad in that country’s civil war, and he also served as the point man for Iranian proxies in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Soleimani’s slaying 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 Iraq, pro-Iranian factions in parliament have pushed to oust American troops from Iraq.

Iran’s parliament 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.

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

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The vote also saw lawmakers approve funding for the Quds Force with an additional 200 million euros, or about $224 million.

Iranian lawmakers chant slogans as some of them hold posters of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone attack, in an open session of parliament, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Iran’s parliament has passed an urgent bill declaring the U.S. military’s command at the Pentagon in Washington and those acting on its behalf “terrorists,” subject to Iranian sanctions.

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Mourners attend a funeral ceremony for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his comrades, who were killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone strike on Friday, in the city of Kerman, Iran, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.

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The leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened on Tuesday to “set ablaze” places supported by the United States over the killing of a top Iranian general in a U.S. airstrike last week, sparking cries from the crowd of supporters of “Death to Israel!”

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Coffins of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike, are carried on a truck surrounded by mourners during a funeral procession, in the city of Kerman, Iran.

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