A funeral procession for slain Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was marred Tuesday when a stampede in Soleimani’s hometown killed at least 32 people and injured dozens more. The procession began Saturday in Baghdad, making multiple stops in Iraq before hopscotching around Iran, finally arriving in the influential commander’s hometown of Kerman in southeastern Iran on Tuesday. Millions of mourners reportedly packed the country’s streets as an elaborately adorned truck carrying Soleimani’s body crept through city streets across the country. In Kerman, however, a crush of people caused a deadly stampede as the flag-draped coffin was being transported to a cemetery in the city with a population of a half-million people.
The deadly stampede came a day after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wept at Soleimani’s massive state funeral in Tehran Monday, called upon the Iranian government’s National Security Council to take open and direct military action against the U.S. in response to the killing of his close friend and ally. “It must be a direct and proportional attack on American interests, [Khamenei] said, openly carried out by Iranian forces themselves, three Iranians familiar with the meeting said Monday,” according to the New York Times. “It was a startling departure for the Iranian leadership. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Tehran had almost always cloaked its attacks behind the actions of proxies it had cultivated around the region.”
The Trump administration, meanwhile, has reportedly blocked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif from entering the U.S. to address the U.N. Security Council. Foreign Policy reports that the move to bar the leader from entering the country “violate[s] the terms of a 1947 headquarters agreement requiring Washington to permit foreign officials into the country to conduct U.N. business.” Iran’s top diplomat told NPR he had requested a visa 25 days ago to address the Security Council meeting Thursday. In the wake of the Friday killing of Soleimani, the appearance would have provided the Iranian government its first global platform to respond to the drone strike.