May 21, 2024

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More than 100 people were killed in the attack on Soleimani's tomb in Kerman

More than 100 people were killed in the attack on Soleimani's tomb in Kerman

On the fourth anniversary of Qassem Soleimani's death, two blasts in his hometown killed dozens of people. Iran's vice president blamed Israel. These attacks threaten to further worsen the situation in the Middle East.

Dozens of people were killed in twin attacks in the central Iranian city of Kerman.

Majid Askaripour/WANA via Reuters

Four years after the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, a terrorist attack on his grave killed more than a hundred people. Two explosive devices detonated 15 minutes apart on Wednesday afternoon among crowds visiting Soleimani's tomb in Kerman, his hometown. how Iranian media reported, explosives may have been hidden in bags and detonated remotely. No one claimed responsibility for the crime at first.

But regime officials blamed Israel. Iran's Vice President Mohammad Moghar said the “Zionist regime” had spilled the blood of innocent citizens. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mojtaba Solnuri also blamed Israel. Rule was in July A terrorist cell was declared busted, who planned the attack on Soleimani's tomb on behalf of Mossad, the Israeli secret service. No evidence was presented then.

The blasts occurred 700 and 1,000 meters away from the Saheb al-Zaman mosque, where Soleimani is buried, on two streets. The mosque is surrounded by a mausoleum on the western edge of the city. Media reports speak of mass panic. Rescuers suffered at least 103 deaths and more than 140 injuries. Interior Minister Ahmed Wahidi announced that those responsible should be held accountable.

Soleimani was the commander of the Quds Brigade, a special unit of the Revolutionary Guards for foreign operations. The general was considered the architect of Iran's regional policy and maintained close ties to Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. On January 3, 2020, a 62-year-old Iraqi militant leader was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad airport ordered by US President Donald Trump.

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Great panic at Suleimani's funeral procession

The general's assassination led to an alarming rise in tensions in the Middle East. Many observers feared a regional war. The regime in Tehran threatened to retaliate against the US, but ultimately settled for a large-scale ballistic missile attack on a US base in Iraq. However, on January 8, 2020, a Ukrainian International Airways passenger flight was accidentally shot down by Iranian air defense shortly after takeoff from Tehran.

After his death, Suleimani was martyred by the regime. Tens of thousands of people thronged the route as his body was flown to Iran. The regime organized mass funerals in Ahvaz, Tehran, Qom and Mashhad, attended by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. During Suleimani's funeral procession in his hometown of Kerman, there was panic in the crowd. More than fifty people died.

Although it is not yet clear who is behind the attacks in Kerman, they will further aggravate the already tense situation in the Middle East. The attacks come amid Israel's ongoing war with Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. They come a day after senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Aruri was killed in an Israeli airstrike south of the Lebanese capital Beirut.

The situation in the Middle East will explode

Aroori was considered Hamas' most important liaison with Tehran. Hamas, along with Iran, the Assad regime in Syria and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, belongs to the so-called “Axis of Resistance”. On Wednesday evening, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addressed his supporters in a speech marking Soleimani's fourth anniversary. There are fears that Hezbollah fighters will take revenge on Israel for Aroori's killing in Beirut.

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Powerful Shiite militias have been firing rockets at Israel almost every day since the October 7 attack by Hamas. However, like Iran, it has so far avoided entering the war. This has led to tensions along the “axis of resistance,” which, like Hamas, feels abandoned by its allies. Media reports suggest that the Iranians are angry that Hamas did not notify them in advance of the attack on Israel.

It is unclear whether the attacks in Kerman are related to the war in the Gaza Strip. A radical Sunni terrorist group like “Islamic State in Khorasan Province” could also be behind it. The Afghan branch of IS is known for its hatred of Shiites and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Arab and Baloch separatist groups have also carried out repeated terrorist attacks in Iran. However, their attacks are mostly against security forces and not civilians.

Rescue workers rescue an injured man in Kerman.  More than a hundred people were killed in these attacks.

Rescue workers rescue an injured man in Kerman. More than a hundred people were killed in these attacks.

Majid Askaripour/WANA via Reuters