Stampede kills dozens at Iran general’s funeral

A stampede has erupted at the funeral procession for the top Iranian general killed in a US airstrike last week, killing at least 40 people and injuring 213 others, local media reports.

According to the report, the stampede took place in Kerman, the hometown of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, as the procession got underway.

Initial videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road and others shouting and trying to help them.

 

 

Iranian state TV gave the casualty toll in its online report, citing Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran's emergency medical services.

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

Authorities later delayed Soleimani's burial, citing concerns about the massive crowd that had gathered, the semi-official ISNA news agency said. It did not say when the burial would take place.

The killing of Qassem Soleimani has led to a US-Iran crisis. Picture: AP
The killing of Qassem Soleimani has led to a US-Iran crisis. Picture: AP

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

Soleimani's death has sparked calls across Iran for revenge against America for a slaying that's drastically raised tensions across the Middle East.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif called the assassination of Soleimani an act of "state terrorism".

"This is an act of aggression against Iran and amounts to an armed attack against Iran, and we will respond. But we will respond proportionally not disproportionally," he said. "We will respond lawfully, we are not lawless people like President Trump."

 

Mr Zarif said the US had declined to issue him a visa to travel to New York for upcoming meetings at the United Nations.

The US as the host of the UN headquarters is supposed to allow foreign officials to attend such meetings.

"This is because they fear someone will go there and tell the truth to the American people," Mr Zarif said. "But they are mistaken. The world is not limited to New York. You can speak with American people from Tehran too and we will do that."

Iran's parliament, meanwhile, has passed an urgent bill declaring the US 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 Mr Trump in April to declare the Revolutionary Guard a "terrorist organisation."

The US Defence Department used the Guard's designation as a terror organisation in the US 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 200 million euros, or about $224 million.

Others were less moderate in their response to the the strike.

A senior presidential aide tacitly called for attacks on the properties of US President Donald Trump, while Soleimani's daughter Zainab directly threatened American forces in the region.

"The families of the American soldiers … will spend their days waiting for the death of their children," she said to extended cheers at the raucous funeral procession for her father.

 

 

More than a million mourners flooded two cities to protest last Friday's killing, which has pushed US-Iran tensions to their highest levels in decades.

Soleimani for decades led Iran's shadowy Quds Force, which directed terror activities across the Middle East, and was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of US forces in the Iraq war.

His slaying outside Baghdad airport has sparked a furious response from Iran and Iraq, which has voted to expel US troops.

Iran announced it would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement that placed caps on its uranium production and research and development, sparking concerns it will build an atomic bomb.

 

Mr Trump said "Iran will never have a nuclear weapon" and backed in his pledge to meet any retaliatory strike with force.

There was also confusion about the US presence in Iraq, after a draft letter was accidentally sent saying forces would be withdrawn after 17 years in the country.

"Here's the bottom line, this was a mistake," said General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The bungled message started when a draft letter from Marine Brigadier General William Seely began circulating on social media.

Addressed to an official at the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, the letter said US troops would be "repositioning forces" to prepare for "onward movement."

Earlier, a top adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signalled that a terror attack could be carried out on American properties owned by Mr Trump, including Mar a Lago and Trump Tower.

A top adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani posted a link on social media to a news article listing large Trump estates throughout the US, indicating that his multi-billion dollar estate was in the crosshairs.

The post linked to Forbes' latest estimate of Trump's financial situation that lists nine properties in New York that have a combined estimated value of $A2.2 billion.


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