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Qasem Soleimani funeral: 35 killed and 48 wounded in stampede at the funeral of murdered general Qassem Soleimani. World News

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TEHRAN: At least 50 people were killed in a stampede as mournings were packing streets for the funeral of an Iranian military commander killed in his hometown on Tuesday, forcing his burial to be postponed, state media reported.

Tens of thousands of people had gathered in the southeastern city of Kerman to pay tribute to General Qassim Suleimani, whose assassination in a US drone strike in Iraq on Friday plunged the region into a new crisis and raised fears of more conflict Broad.

A senior Iranian official said Tehran was considering several scenarios to avenge his murder. Other high-level figures have said that Iran will equal the scale of Suleimani’s assassination when he responds, but that he will choose the time and place.

Tuesday’s stampede erupted amid the crushing of mourners, killing 50 people, Iran’s ISNA news agency said, citing Kerman province chief coroner Abbas Amian. About 213 people were injured, an emergency services official told the semi-official Fars news agency.

Suleimani’s burial had been postponed, ISNA said, without adding more time would last.

“Today, due to the heavy congestion of the crowd, unfortunately, several of our fellow citizens who were in mourning were injured and several died,” said the head of emergency medical services, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state television .

The body of Suleimani, a national hero to many Iranians but seen as a dangerous villain by Western governments opposed to the Islamic Republic, had been taken to Iraqi and Iranian cities before arriving in Kerman for burial.

In each place, a large number of people filled the streets, singing “Death to America” and crying with emotion. Supreme leader Ali Khamenei sheds tears as he directs prayers in Tehran.

Suleimani, who commanded the Quds Force elite, was responsible for building Tehran’s network of proxy armies throughout the Middle East. He was a key figure in the orchestration of Iran’s long-standing campaign to drive U.S. forces out of Iraq.

Iran’s opponents say its representatives have fueled conflict, killing and displacing people in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Tehran says any overseas operation is at the request of governments and offers “consultative support.”

The U.S. Secretary of Defense denied reports that the U.S. military was preparing to withdraw from Iraq, where Tehran has attacked with Washington since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

“We will take revenge, a hard and definitive revenge,” the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, General Hossein Salami, told Kerman’s crowds before the stampede.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said 13 “revenge scenarios” were being considered,” Fars news agency reported. Even the weakest option would be “a historic nightmare for Americans,” he said.

Iran, whose coast runs along a Gulf sea route that includes the Strait of Hormuz, has allied forces throughout the Middle East through which it can act. Representatives of these groups, including the Palestinian hamas group and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, attended funeral events in Tehran.

Despite its strident rhetoric, analysts say Iran will want to avoid any conventional conflict with the United States and is likely to focus on asymmetric attacks, such as sabotage or other military action through representatives.

Trump has promised targeting 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliates.

Reuters and other media outlets reported Monday that the U.S. military had sent a letter to Iraqi officials informing them that U.S. troops were preparing to leave. But U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper denied there had been any decision to withdraw.

About 5,000 U.S. troops are still in Iraq, where there has been a US military presence since Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003.

Iraq’s parliament, dominated by lawmakers representing Shiite Muslim groups who have joined for the murder of Suleimani alongside an Iraqi militia leader, passed a resolution on Sunday calling for all foreign troops to leave.

Prime Minister Prime Abdel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq told the U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad that the resolution should be implemented.

Frictions between Iran and the United States have increased since Washington withdrew in 2018 from a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

The United States has imposed new economic sanctions on Iran, cutting down Iranian oil exports, and Tehran said Sunday that it was removing limitations on uranium enrichment, in its final behind commitments to the agreement.

Washington denied a visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to allow him to attend a U Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday, a US official said.

Trump’s American political rivals have defied his decision to order Suleimani’s assassination and questioned his moment in a U.S. election year. His administration said Suleimani was planning further attacks against the United States. interests without giving evidence.

US General Milley said Suleimani’s threat was imminent. “We would have been guilty of the American people if we had not made the decision we made,” he said.

Trump administration officials will provide a classified briefing for U.S. senators Wednesday on events in Iraq after some lawmakers accuse white house of risking a conflict without a strategy.

Times of India

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