Soleimani's burial: 56 killed, 213 injured in stampede

In each place, huge numbers of people filled thoroughfares, chanting "Death to America" and weeping with emotion. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei shed tears as he led prayers in Tehran on Monday.

Iranian people attend a funeral procession and burial for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, at his hometown in Kerman, Iran January 7, 2020 (photo credit: MEHDI BOLOURIAN/FARS NEWS AGENCY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
Iranian people attend a funeral procession and burial for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, at his hometown in Kerman, Iran January 7, 2020
(photo credit: MEHDI BOLOURIAN/FARS NEWS AGENCY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
A stampede broke out at IRGC's Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani's funeral, killing 56 people and injuring more than 210, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing an emergency services official. Iran's ISNA news agency said the burial of Soleimani had been postponed due to the deaths and injuries, but did not say how long any delay would last.
The death toll in a stampede during the funeral rose to 56 on Tuesday, Iran's ISNA news agency reported.
The news agency was quoting the chief coroner for Kerman province, Abbas Amian. The funeral was taking place in the city of Kerman, Soleimani's hometown.
Tens of thousands of people had gathered in Kerman to pay tribute to Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq on Friday.
"Today, because of the heavy congestion of the crowd, a number of our fellow citizens who were mourning were unfortunately injured and a number were killed," emergency medical services chief Pirhossein Kolivand told state television.
He did not give further details.
The body of Soleimani, a national hero whose death has united many Iranians, had been taken to Iraqi and Iranian cities before arriving in Kerman for burial.
In each place, huge numbers of people filled thoroughfares, chanting "Death to America" and weeping with emotion. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei shed tears as he led prayers in Tehran on Monday.
In other developments on Tuesday, a senior Iranian official said Tehran was considering 13 scenarios to avenge his killing.
In Washington, the US defense secretary denied reports the military was preparing to withdraw from Iraq, where Tehran has vied with Washington for influence for over nearly two decades of war and unrest.
Soleimani was responsible for building up Iran's network of proxy armies across the Middle East, and was a key figure in orchestrating the Islamic Republic's long-standing campaign to drive US forces out of its neighbor Iraq.
US and Iranian warnings of new strikes and retaliation have also stoked concerns about a broader Middle East conflict and led to calls in the US Congress for legislation to stop President Donald Trump from going to war with Iran.
"We will take revenge: a hard and definitive revenge," the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Hossein Salami, told the crowds in Kerman prior to the stampede.
Khamenei and military commanders have said that Iranian retaliation would match the scale of Soleimani's killing but that it would be at a time and place of Tehran's choosing.
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said that 13 "revenge scenarios" were being considered, according to Fars news agency. Even the weakest option would prove "a historic nightmare for the Americans," he said.
Iran, whose southern coast stretches along a Gulf oil shipping route that includes the narrow Strait of Hormuz, has allied forces across the Middle East through which it could act. Representatives from those groups, including the Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, attended the funeral events in Tehran.
Despite its strident rhetoric, analysts say that while Iran will seek to avoid any conventional conflict with the United States, asymmetric strikes, such as sabotage or other military actions via proxies, are more likely.
Trump has promised strikes on 52 Iranian targets, including possibly cultural sites, if Iran retaliates.


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