UPDATE | Stampede at Soleimani's funeral leaves scores dead in Iran

2020-01-07 13:13
Protesters hold pictures of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, during a demonstration outside the US consulate in Istanbul. (Yasin Akgul, AFP)

Protesters hold pictures of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, during a demonstration outside the US consulate in Istanbul. (Yasin Akgul, AFP)

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A stampede broke out on Tuesday at the funeral of a top Iranian general killed in a US drone strike, leaving more than 40 people dead as huge crowds of mourners packed his hometown.

The crush in the southeastern city of Kerman came as Iran prepared to bury Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, a hugely popular figure in the Islamic republic.

Soleimani, the head of the Guards' Quds Force foreign operations arm, was assassinated on Friday in a US strike near Baghdad international airport, an operation that shocked Iran.

"The enemy killed him unjustly," the Revolutionary Guards' top commander, Major General Hossein Salami said, adding the process of "expelling the United States from the region has begun".

"Our will is firm. We also tell our enemies that we will take revenge, and that if they (strike again) we will set fire to what they love," he told the sea of black-clad mourners.

"They themselves know well what places I am talking about."

Schoolgirls joined chants of "Death to Trump" from the crowd, an AFP correspondent reported.

READ | Letter on US pullout from Iraq a 'mistake'

Tuesday's funeral comes after days of processions through the streets of Ahvaz in southwestern Ian, the capital Tehran, the holy city of Qom and far northwestern city of Mashhad.

The assassination of Soleimani set off an escalating war of words between Iran and the United States.

In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani on Monday warned Trump to "never threaten" Iran, after the US leader issued a US strike list of 52 targets in the Islamic republic.

ALSO READ | Unravelling of the Iran nuclear deal: a timeline

On Tuesday, Iranian lawmakers voted to designate all US forces around the world "terrorists" over Soleimani's killing.

Parliament also agreed to bolster the coffers of the Quds Force, which Soleimani led, by $244 million.

Soleimani is expected to be buried at the martyrs' cemetery in Kerman between 14:00 and 16:00.

Read more on:    iran  |  usa  |  qasem soleimani
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