Outside of Iranian regime supporters, elected Democrats and liberal media figures, much of the rest of the world has celebrated the targeted airstrike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who had been deemed a terrorist and was responsible for a significant amount of death and destruction across the Middle East over the past few decades.
Even in death, Soleimani was responsible for at least another 50 deaths and more than 200 additional injuries after a stampede broke out amid the packed crowd of mourners who turned out for the Iranian general’s funeral in his hometown of Kerman, the Daily Mail reported.
Deadly stampede at Soleimani funeral
As of the latest reports from Iran’s state-run media — which have been updated several times since Monday — at least 56 people were killed and at least 213 suffered injuries in a stampede that began for reasons that remain unclear.
Hundreds of thousands of people turned out for Soleimani’s funeral procession through Kerman, the third such funeral service in three days following processions that began in the capital of Tehran and the holy city of Qom in the days prior.
Authorities could pinpoint no particular cause for the stampede other than severe overcrowding, but the deadly incident was confirmed by the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Koulivand, who announced in a statement on state-run TV, “Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions.”
Iran threatens retaliation
Meanwhile, amid the typical mass chants of “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” came threats of retaliation by several top Iranian officials ranging from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani to diplomatic officials and military leaders and even regular Iranians incensed by the strike against Soleimani.
It is worth noting that both Khamenei and Rouhani have stated that any retaliatory strikes will be carried out directly by Iranian forces to make a point, rather than relying on any of Iran’s many proxies in the Middle East, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, or Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, among other places.
Ali Shamkani, head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, announced in a statement: “The Americans should know that until now 13 revenge scenarios have been discussed in the council and even if there is consensus on the weakest scenario carrying it out can be a historic nightmare for the Americans.”
He added threateningly, “If the U.S. troops do not leave our region voluntarily and upright, we will do something to carry their bodies horizontally out.”
Bracing for a strike
Meanwhile, American and allied forces around the region are bracing themselves and preparing to defend against expected retaliatory strikes, albeit without knowing any specifics about the intended date, time, or place of such attacks.
Potential targets include U.S. and allied embassies or military bases in the region, not to mention trade ships moving through the narrow and vital Strait of Hormuz, as well as properties owned by President Trump across the globe.
When and where those potential attacks may occur remains unclear, but one thing that is known is that — according to the president — any future attacks that kill or injure Americans will be met with severe reprisals against Iran. We’ll have to wait and see if Iran takes that blunt warning from Trump seriously or not.