Iran holds funerals for troops killed in 1980s Iraq war

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Thousands of Iranians on Tuesday attended state-organized funerals for 400 soldiers killed in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. Iran’s president, meanwhile, lashed out at the United States and its allies, accusing them of fomenting anti-government protests that have been underway in Iran for over three months.

Caskets with the remains of “unidentified martyrs” were draped in Iranian flags and carried in mass processions. For many Iranian families, the conflict’s painful legacy drags on in a continuous waiting for news of loved ones still “missing.”

In January, 250 Iranian soldiers killed in the 1980-1988 war were buried in similar ceremonies.

Iran has been shaken by mass protests since mid-September over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who died after being detained by the country’s morality police.

The protests rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s theocracy, established after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, marking one of the biggest challenges to the Iranian clerical rule in over four decades. At least 507 protesters have been killed and more than 18,500 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored the unrest. Iranian authorities have not released figures for those killed or arrested.

In the capital, Tehran, the last farewell on Tuesday honored 200 soldiers whose remains were recently recovered from the former battlefields along the Iraq-Iran border. Funerals were held for another 200 soldiers in other cities and towns across Iran. None of the soldiers have been identified and their remains were to be buried as “unknown martyrs” in mass funerals.—AP