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Dozens of mourners were killed in a stampede at the burial of Iran’s powerful General Qassem Soleimani on Tuesday as hundreds of thousands of people once again turned out to mourn the assassinated military leader.
Iran’s state television broadcaster reported that 56 people were killed and more than 200 injured during a stampede in Soleimani’s hometown of Kerman, in the southeast of the country.
One video of the incident posted online and reviewed by VICE News shows bodies lying lifeless on the ground while people shout and try to help them. Another shows emergency workers attempting to revive the victims using CPR.
“Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions,” Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, told Iran TV.
Soleimani's burial had been scheduled for later Tuesday, but the authorities delayed it due to the huge crowds that had gathered. They did not say when the burial would take place, according to the ISNA news agency.
Ahead of the burial, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami, addressed the huge crowds, claiming that as a martyr, Soleimani presented an even greater threat to Iran’s enemies, including the U.S.
“We will take revenge. We will set ablaze where they like,” Salami said. His comments drew cries of “Death to Israel!” from the crowd.
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On Monday, over a million people filled the streets of Tehran to mourn the general, who was seen as Iran’s second most powerful man and a hero to some Iranians. The crowds in Iran’s capital were so big that they were captured in satellite images.
Soleimani’s death has united Iran in fury at the U.S. and raised fears of retaliation against the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East.
A report from the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Tuesday said Iran has come up with 13 sets of plans to avenge Soleimani’s killing. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, is quoted as saying that even the weakest among them would be a “historic nightmare” for the U.S.
“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.
Earlier Tuesday, the Iranian Parliament unanimously passed a motion designating the U.S. Army and the Pentagon as terrorist organizations — a move that mirrors the U.S. labeling the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization last April.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the U.S. for denying him a travel visa to attend a U.N. Security Council meeting later this week in New York, claiming that the Trump administration “fears that someone comes to the U.S. and reveals realities” about the Soleimani killing.
As host, the U.S. is supposed to allow foreign officials to attend such meetings.
Zarif, addressing the Tehran Dialogue Forum on Tuesday, also warned that Iran’s response to the killing of Soleimani would take place when it would cause the maximum impact:
“The U.S. will receive the definitive resolute response to its brazen, criminal act in a place and at a time it hurts most.”
Cover: Mourners attend a funeral ceremony for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his comrades who were killed Friday in Iraq in a U.S. drone strike, in the city of Kerman, Iran, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (Erfan Kouchari/Tasnim News Agency via AP)