TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – The U.S. government is warning ships across Mideast waterways crucial to global energy supplies that thereâ€™s the â€œpossibility of Iranian action against U.S. maritime interestsâ€ in the region.
The U.S. Maritime Administration put out the warning Tuesday, citing the rising threats after an American drone strike in Baghdad killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Oil tankers were targeted in mine attacks last year the U.S. blamed on Iran. Tehran denied being responsible though it did seize oil tankers around the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of the worldâ€™s crude oil travels.
THIS IS A MAJOR NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story is below.
A stampede erupted on Tuesday at a funeral procession for a top Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike last week, killing 35 people and injuring 48 others, state television reported.
According to the report, the stampede took place in Kerman, the hometown of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as the procession got underway. Initial videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road, others shouting and trying to help them.
Iranian state TV gave the casualty toll in its online report, without saying where it obtained the information. Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iranâ€™s emergency medical services, earlier spoke by telephone to state TV and confirmed the stampede took place.
â€œUnfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions,” he said.
A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over 1 million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main thoroughfares and side streets in Tehran.
Soleimani’s death has sparked calls across Iran for revenge against Americafor a slaying thatâ€™s drastically raised tensions across the Middle East.
Early Tuesday, the leader of Iranâ€™s Revolutionary Guard threatened to â€œset ablazeâ€ places supported by the United States over the killing of a top Iranian general in a U.S. airstrike last week, sparking cries from the crowd of supporters of â€œDeath to Israel!â€ Hossein Salami made the pledge before a crowd of thousands gathered in a central square in Kerman before a casket carrying Soleimani’s remains.
The outpouring of grief was an unprecedented honor for a man viewed by Iranians as a national hero for his work leading the Guardâ€™s expeditionary Quds Force. The U.S. blames him for the killing of American troops in Iraq and accused him of plotting new attacks just before his death Friday in a drone strike near Baghdadâ€™s airport. Soleimani also led forces in Syria backing President Bashar Assad in a long war, and he also served as the point man for Iranian proxies in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
His slaying already has pushed Tehran to abandon the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as his successor and others vow to take revenge. In Baghdad, the parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil, something analysts fear could allow Islamic State militants to mount a comeback.
Speaking in Kerman, Salami praised Soleimani’s exploits, describing him as essential to backing Palestinian groups, Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria. As a martyr, Soleimani represented an even greater threat to Iran’s enemies, Salami said.
â€œWe will take revenge. We will set ablaze where they like,â€ Salami said, drawing the cries of â€œDeath to Israel!â€
Israel is a longtime regional foe of Iran.
According to a report on Tuesday by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Iran has worked up 13 sets of plans for revenge for Soleimani’s killing. The report quoted Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iranâ€™s Supreme National Security Council, as saying that even the weakest among them would be a â€œhistoric nightmareâ€ for the U.S. He declined to give any details,
â€œIf the U.S. troops do not leave our region voluntarily and upright, we will do something to carry their bodies horizontally out,” Shamkhani said.
Iran’s parliament, meanwhile, passed an urgent bill declaring the U.S. military’s command at the Pentagon and those acting on its behalf in Soleimani’s killing as â€œterrorists,” subject to Iranian sanctions. The measure appears to be an attempt to mirror a decision by President Donald Trump in April to declare the Revolutionary Guard a â€œterrorist organization.â€
The U.S. Defense Department used the Guardâ€™s designation as a terror organization in the U.S. to support the strike that killed Soleimani. The decision by Iranâ€™s parliament, done by a special procedure to speed the bill to law, comes as officials across the country threaten to retaliate for Soleimaniâ€™s killing.
The vote also saw lawmakers approve funding for the Quds Force with an additional 200 million euros, or about $224 million.
Also Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the U.S. had declined to issue him a visa to travel to New York for upcoming meetings at the United Nations. The U.S. as the host of the U.N. headquarters is supposed to allow foreign officials to attend such meetings.
â€œThis is because they fear someone will go there and tell the truth to the American people,â€ Zarif said. “But they are mistaken. The world is not limited to New York. You can speak with American people from Tehran too and we will do that.â€
The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Solemani will be buried later Tuesday between the graves of Enayatollah Talebizadeh and Mohammad Hossein Yousef Elahi, two former Guard comrades. The two died in Operation Dawn 8 in Iran’s 1980s war with Iraq in which Soleimani also took part, a 1986 amphibious assault that cut Iraq off from the Persian Gulf and led to the end of the bloody war that killed 1 million people.
Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.