Dozens killed in twin bomb blasts at memorial service for Qassem Soleimani in Iran

At least 73 people were reported killed in twin blasts at a memorial service to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of General Qassem Soleimani in Kerman in southern Iran, according to state media reports.

Iranian state media reported twin bomb blasts at a memorial service to mark the anniversary of the death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Kerman. According to reports, at least 73 people were killed and 170 others were injured. The Iranian news agency Tasnim reported two detonations a few minutes apart near the Saheb al-Zaman Mosque. Numerous people had gathered at Soleimani's grave to mark the fourth anniversary of his death. No information is yet available about the cause of the blasts.

Qassem Soleimani was commander of the Al-Quds Brigades and was killed in January 2020 at the age of 62 in a drone attack at Baghdad airport ordered by then US President Donald Trump. The general was one of Tehran's most important figures both in Iran and abroad. He led Iran's foreign operations and played an important role in Iran's growing influence in the Middle East. Among other things, he strengthened the ties between the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Syrian Assad government and the militias in Iran. The Al-Quds Brigades, which he commanded, also maintain close relations with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Soleimani led Al-Quds Brigades cells in Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, India and Turkey. Soleimani became head of the Al-Quds Brigades in 1998. Since then, Western, Israeli and Arab secret services have tried to kill him. According to a 2017 assessment by former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack, Soleimani was "a cross between James Bond, Erwin Rommel and Lady Gaga" for the Shiites in the Middle East. The Times named him one of the hundred most important people in the world. In Iran, he was cheered like a star by his supporters.