Islamic State claims responsibility for explosions in Iran

Islamic State stated that two of its militants acted as suicide bombers

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the explosions in Iran that claimed nearly 100 lives and numerous injuries.

The attacks occurred during a memorial service for Qassem Soleimani, a top commander who was killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone in 2020. The militant Sunni Muslim group stated on its Telegram affiliate channels that two of its members had detonated explosive belts among the crowd gathered at the cemetery in the southeastern city of Kerman on the anniversary of Soleimani’s death.

Initially, the Iranian government attributed the explosions to “terrorists” and expressed its determination to seek revenge for what it considers the bloodiest attacks since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The twin blasts injured 284 individuals, including women and children. Iran’s First Vice President, Mohammad Mokhber, stated that a strong retaliation would be carried out by the soldiers of Soleimani.

According to an unnamed source cited by the state news agency IRNA, the first explosion at the cemetery in Kerman was the result of a suicide bomber’s actions. The cause of the second blast was likely the same. The United Nations Security Council condemned the attacks as a “cowardly terrorist attack” and extended condolences to the victims’ families and the Iranian government.

State TV aired footage of crowds in various cities across Iran, including Kerman, chanting slogans such as “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.” Iranian authorities have called for mass protests during the funerals of the victims.

The Revolutionary Guards Corps, a powerful entity in Iran, denounced the attacks as cowardly acts aimed at creating insecurity and seeking revenge against the nation’s deep love and devotion to the Islamic Republic. The Guards commander in Kerman denied state media reports of a shooting in the city.

President Ebrahim Raisi condemned the attacks as heinous and inhumane crimes, while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei vowed revenge for the bombings. Islamic State has previously claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shi’ite shrine in Iran in 2022, resulting in the deaths of 15 people.

The group has also been linked to previous attacks, such as twin bombings in 2017 targeting Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

The United States denied any involvement in the explosions and stated that it had no reason to believe Israel was involved. The U.S. characterized the blasts as a terrorist attack similar to those previously carried out by Islamic State.

Iran has often accused its archenemies, Israel and the United States, of supporting anti-Iran militant groups responsible for past attacks. Additionally, Baluchi militants and ethnic Arab separatists have staged attacks within Iran.

The killing of Soleimani and Iran’s subsequent retaliation by attacking Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops had brought the United States and Iran to the brink of full-blown conflict. Soleimani, as the chief commander of the elite Quds force, was responsible for clandestine operations abroad and played a key role in Iran’s campaign to remove U.S. forces from the Middle East.

Tensions between Iran and Israel, along with its ally the United States, have escalated due to Israel’s recent actions against Iran-backed Hamas militants in Gaza.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia has also targeted ships with alleged links to Israel in the Red Sea, a vital shipping lane. In response to U.S. support of Israel, Iran-backed militants have targeted U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, leading to retaliatory airstrikes by the U.S.

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