News World Thirty-five dead in stampede as Iranian throngs mourn Major General Qassem Soleimani

Thirty-five dead in stampede as Iranian throngs mourn Major General Qassem Soleimani

Mourners attended a funeral for Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and others killed in Iraq by a US drone strike. Photo: Getty
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At least 35 people have been killed and 48 others injured in a stampede that erupted at a funeral procession for a top Iranian military commander killed in a US drone strike in Iraq last week.

Iranian state television said the stampede erupted in Kerman, the hometown of Gen. Qassem Soleimani where the procession was underway on Tuesday.

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

The body of Qassem Soleimani reached his hometown for burial on Tuesday as the US defence secretary denied reports the US military is preparing to withdraw from Iraqi territory.


Iran’s supreme leader has wept over the casket of a top general killed in a US airstrike, his prayers joining the wails of mourners who flooded the streets of Tehran demanding retaliation.

Monday’s funeral for Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani drew a crowd said by police to be in the millions in the Iranian capital, filling thoroughfares and side streets as far as the eye could see.

Although there was no independent estimate, aerial footage suggested a turnout of at least a million with the throngs visible on satellite images.

Authorities later brought his remains and those of the others to Iran’s holy city of Qom, turning out another massive crowd.

The outpouring of grief was an unprecedented honour for a man viewed as a national hero for his work leading the Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force.

The US blames him for the killing of American troops in Iraq and accuses him of plotting new attacks just before his death on Friday in a drone strike at Baghdad’s airport.

General Soleimani also led forces in Syria backing President Bashar Assad in a long war.

His 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 Baghdad, the parliament has called for the expulsion of American troops, something analysts fear could allow Islamic State militants to mount a comeback.

General Soleimani’s daughter, Zeinab, directly threatened the US military in the Middle East while also warning President Donald Trump, whom she called “crazy”.

“The families of the American soldiers … will spend their days waiting for the death of their children,” she said to cheers.

Her language mirrored warnings by other Iranian officials who say an attack on US military interests in the Middle East looms.

Iranian state TV and others online shared a video showing Mr Trump’s American flag tweet following General Soleimani’s killing turn into a coffin, the “likes” of the tweet replaced by over 143,000 “killed”.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prayed over the caskets of General Soleimani and others at Tehran University after a brief mourning at the capital’s famed Musalla mosque.

The mosque was also where prayers were said over the body of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, after his death in 1989.

Mr Khamenei, who had a close relationship with General Soleimani and referred to him as a “living martyr,” broke down in tears four times while offering Muslim prayers for the dead.

“Oh God, you took their spirits out of their bodies as they were rolling in their blood for you and were martyred in your way,” he said as the crowd wailed.

General Soleimani will be buried Tuesday in his hometown of Kerman.

His successor, Esmail Ghaani, stood near Mr Khamenei’s side as did President Hassan Rouhani and other leaders of the Islamic Republic.

Demonstrators burned Israeli and US flags, carried a flag-draped US coffin or displayed effigies of Mr Trump. Some described him as a legitimate target.

General Ghaani made his own threat on Iranian state television.

“God the Almighty has promised to get his revenge and God is the main avenger. Certainly actions will be taken,” he said.


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