WASHINGTON: The United States said Thursday it had specifically alerted Iran to the threat of an attack before bombings claimed by the Islamic State group killed around 90 people in southeastern Kerman.
The two blasts on January 3 hit crowds at a memorial ceremony near the tomb of Qasem Soleimani, a top Revolutionary Guards general killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in 2020.
"Prior" to the Islamic State (IS) attack, the "US Government provided Iran with a private warning that there was a terrorist threat within Iranian borders," a US official said on condition of anonymity.
"The US Government followed a longstanding 'duty to warn' policy... We provide these warnings in part because we do not want to see innocent lives lost in terror attacks," the official said.
The information passed to Iran was specific enough to have helped Tehran thwart the attack or lessen the casualty toll, US media reported.
Soleimani, who headed the Guards' foreign operations arm the Quds Force, was a staunch enemy of IS, a Sunni extremist group which has carried out previous attacks in majority-Shiite Iran.
The jihadist group later said that two of its members had activated explosive belts in the middle of "a large gathering of apostates, near the grave of their leader."
Revered by many Iranians, Soleimani oversaw Iranian military operations across the Middle East, and millions came to his funeral in 2020.
The United States, which cut formal diplomatic ties with Tehran in 1980 following the Islamic revolution, accuses Iran of backing the Palestinian militant group Hamas as well as Yemen's Huthi rebels, Lebanese Hezbollah and armed groups in Iraq.