Wagswoofs – Two explosions on Wednesday claimed the lives of at least 95 individuals in southern Iran. The tragic incident occurred during a memorial event held in honor of a senior Iranian general who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. This devastating incident has further heightened tensions in an already volatile region.
Around 2,300 feet from the tomb of Gen. Qassem Soleimani in the Kerman Martyrs Cemetery, the semiofficial news agency ISNA reported that the first of two blasts occurred. According to the report, the second explosion took place approximately 2,000 feet away.
No individual or group has taken immediate responsibility for the bombings, which caused injuries to over 210 individuals in what is considered one of the most devastating attacks in the history of the Islamic Republic.
According to four current and former U.S. officials, it is believed that Israel was not responsible for the attack. Additionally, two of the officials stated that the U.S. also had no involvement in the incident.
Iran is attributing the attacks to Israel, with a senior member of parliament suggesting that the explosions resemble a Mossad operation. Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi alleges that the attack was carried out by American and Israeli agents.
The initial death toll of approximately 100 people was modified when authorities discovered that certain names were being duplicated, according to Iran’s health minister, Bahram Einollahi, in an interview with state TV.
Soleimani was born and raised in Kerman, the capital city of the eponymous province. He met his demise in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
At the time of his death, Soleimani held a prominent position as the leader of Iran’s secretive Quds Force, a division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. His main responsibility was to safeguard and promote Iran’s interests in various countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian territories.
Iranian officials wasted no time in condemning the explosions on Wednesday, labeling them as “terrorist attacks.” However, due to the tight control of information by the ruling theocratic regime, there remains an air of uncertainty surrounding the incident.
According to the Fars news agency, three policemen were among the fatalities.
According to Rahman Jalali, the deputy governor for security in Kerman, the explosions were the work of terrorists. The Tasnim news agency, a semiofficial source, reported that the blasts were caused by two suitcases filled with explosives.
“The Iranian nation is filled with sorrow as many families grieve the loss of their loved ones,” expressed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He further added, “The perpetrators, driven by cold-heartedness, could not withstand the love and dedication of the people who wished to pay their respects at the shrine of the revered commander, Qassem Soleimani.” Khamenei refrained from explicitly naming the individuals responsible for this tragic incident in his statement to IRNA.
According to a U.S. official and counterterrorism expert, the explosions seem to be a deadly but relatively simple attack. Given the ongoing conflict between the Islamic State group and Tehran, it is possible that the militants could be responsible for the attack.
In October 2022, the Islamic State took credit for a shooting assault at a Shiite shrine in the Iranian city of Shiraz, resulting in the reported deaths of 15 innocent civilians. The Iranian regime has stated that it has successfully thwarted additional schemes by the extremist organization.
According to Norman Roule, a former CIA officer with 34 years of experience, the information available about the attack indicates that it was not carried out by a state-sponsored entity. He points out that such operations typically aim to minimize civilian casualties and target specific actors or facilities.
According to Roule, who had extensive experience in intelligence related to Iran, the individuals responsible for this operation displayed a lack of sophistication in their methods. They lacked the capability to effectively place explosives near the ceremony and instead focused on causing as many civilian casualties as possible.
According to Roule, a senior advisor to United Against Nuclear Iran, the recent attack bears the hallmarks of either the Islamic State’s Wilayet Khorasan or the Baluch group Jaish al-Adl. He believes that both these groups have a history of carrying out large-scale attacks causing significant casualties in Iran.
According to him, these militant groups have been carrying out terror campaigns against Tehran for years due to their own political and religious differences with Iran.
Every year since his death, Iranians have come together at the cemetery to honor Soleimani. His killing, ordered by then-President Donald Trump, ignited widespread protests in Iran and Iraq, with many demanding retaliation against the United States.
Wednesday’s blasts, although their relation to the Israel-Hamas war remains unclear, occur during a period of increased tensions throughout the Middle East.
In a reported drone strike in Beirut on Tuesday, the Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri was killed. This blast has sparked concerns of a wider regional escalation, as Israel and other countries continue to confront Iran-backed groups.
Al-Arouri, the commander of Hamas’ military wing in the occupied West Bank and deputy chairman of the group’s political bureau, played a crucial role in restoring Hamas’ ties with Iran. He had been a target of Israel even before the current conflict erupted.
Hamas and the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah attributed the strike to Israel, while Israeli officials chose not to provide any comments.
Hamas strongly condemned the bombings that took place in Iran, denouncing them as a heinous criminal attack in the city of Kerman.
Israel has a long-standing track record of actively pursuing its adversaries, which includes leaders of Hamas. Throughout the years, it has been involved in a covert conflict with Tehran, characterized by precise targeted killings and operations against Iran’s nuclear program. However, it has refrained from resorting to large-scale bombings that could result in significant civilian casualties.
Mass protests have been shaking Iran in recent years, with one notable incident being the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in 2022. Alongside these internal demonstrations, the country has also faced attacks from exile groups, a trend that traces back to the period of unrest during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.