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Iran OKs bill calling US military, Pentagon terrorists after Qasem Soleimani killing

Iran's 10th parliament inaugural celebration. (Mahmoud Hosseini/Tasnim News Agency)

Iran’s Parliament Tuesday approved a bill designating the entire U.S. military and Pentagon terrorist organizations after the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Iraq.

Lawmakers also backed a motion allocating $220 million to the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards Corp’s (IRGC) Quds Force to take revenge for Soleimani’s death in a drone strike ordered by President Donald Trump.

The U.S. action has threatened to spill over into outright military confrontation between Tehran and Washington, though both sides insist they don’t want war. Trump has sought a “maximum pressure” policy on Iran aimed at curbing its nuclear activities, ballistic missile program and support for militant groups.

Iran’s new legislation was unanimously approved by 223 lawmakers, according to Iranian state media. The nation’s Supreme National Security Council had previously – last year – designated U.S. Central Command, the U.S. military’s Middle East command unit, a terrorist group. That came in response to the Trump administration’s labeling of the IRGC as a terrorist organization after Washington exited a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers and reimposed economic sanctions.

Soleimani headed the Quds Force, an elite wing of the IRGC that orchestrated Iran’s ties to non-state armed groups in the region such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, with whom Soleimani was holding meetings when he was killed in a U.S. strike near Baghdad’s main airport Friday.

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Separately, Iranian state TV reported that at least 56 people were killed and 213 others injured in a stampede that erupted at a funeral procession Tuesday for the slain general in Soleimani’s hometown of Kerman, in southeastern Iran. A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over 1 million people in the Iran’s capital, crowding main thoroughfares and side streets. Emergency services in Kerman blamed high levels of congestion and overcrowding for the tragedy.

Soleimani’s burial was later delayed because of the huge crowds.

Authorities did not say when the funeral and burial would resume.

There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. State Department or White House to Iran’s parliamentary resolution. Washington considered Soleimani a terrorist responsible for hundreds of American soldiers’ death in Iraq, largely because the organization he headed trained Iraqi militant groups to target U.S.-led coalition forces with improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. Soleimani also oversaw Iran’s sophisticated foreign intelligence and security apparatus.

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© 2020 USA Today