Iran Mourns Victims of IS-Claimed Bombing Targeting General’s Commemoration, Death Toll Rises to 89
In a solemn funeral ceremony in Kerman, Iran, a woman grieves over the flag-draped coffin of a loved one killed in a bomb explosion. The tragic loss is a result of an Islamic State group-claimed suicide bombing that targeted a commemoration for a general who was slain in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. The death toll from the attack has risen to at least 89, as Iran mourns the victims of this devastating act of violence.
Iranian officials speaking at the mass funeral, including President Ebrahim Raisi and the top commander of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, sought to link Israel and the U.S. to the attack. This attempt aimed to intertwine the assault with the wider Middle East tensions arising from the Israel-Hamas war. However, the officials provided no evidence to support their claims, and the gathered crowd responded with chants of “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”
President Raisi emphasized the power and ability of the Islamic Republic, stating, “The enemy always sees the power of the Islamic Republic. The whole world is recognizing this power and this ability.” He further declared that the initiative is in the hands of Iran’s powerful forces and that the place and time of action will be determined by them.
Iranian state television also echoed the attempt to link America to the attack, re-broadcasting comments from 2016 made by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, who falsely accused then-President Barack Obama of being the “founder” of the extremist group. General Hossein Salami, the commander of the Guard, similarly referenced the U.S., stating, “They can only act as agents and mercenaries of American politics and Zionism… wherever you are, we will find you. You cannot avoid divine punishment by disappearing. If you live for 1,000 years, we will find you.”
The suicide bombing took place on Wednesday, with one bomber detonating explosives and another launching a second attack 20 minutes later as people and emergency workers attempted to help the wounded. The city of Kerman, where the attack occurred, is located about 510 miles southeast of the capital, Tehran.
The attack was specifically targeted at a commemoration for Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in 2020 by a U.S. drone strike. Soleimani played a significant role in Iran’s response to the Islamic State group in Syria and was focused on supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad. He also had extensive ties to proxy groups around the wider Middle East, including Hamas. The U.S. viewed Soleimani as the mastermind behind deadly roadside bombings that targeted American soldiers in Iraq.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, with a statement linking it to Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip. However, Iranian leaders chose to focus on the U.S. and Israel, rather than on the Islamic State group, during their remarks at the funeral.
The attack has sparked widespread condemnation globally, even amid Iran’s wider tensions with the West over its nuclear program. In response to the tragic events, Pope Francis expressed deep sadness over the loss of life and offered blessings of wisdom and peace to the people of Iran.
The Islamic State group’s claim of the attack raised questions, as it differed in some aspects from previous claims by the group. Despite ongoing tensions, Iran has retaliated against IS-claimed attacks in the past, including launching ballistic missiles into Syria.
The growing strength of the Islamic State group in neighboring Afghanistan, following the fall of the Western-backed government in Kabul, has raised concerns. Iran and the Taliban, which now governs Afghanistan, have maintained diplomatic ties, but there have been border skirmishes and tensions over water supplies between the two nations.
Overall, the tragic bombing has not only resulted in loss of life and injuries but has also sparked tensions and animosity between Iran and other nations involved in the wider Middle East conflicts. The affected families and the nation as a whole continue to mourn and seek justice for the victims of this senseless act of violence.