Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Friday that the day Iran attacked US targets in Iraq was a “day of God” and a “blow to America’s image” in his first Friday sermon since 2012.
Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq on January 8 in response to the US-ordered drone strike that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
“The fact that Iran has the power to give such a slap to a world power shows the hand of God,” Khamenei said.
His comments were met by chants of “Death to America!”
Khamenei also said protests in Iran over the Ukrainian plane attack were aimed at overshadowing Soleimani’s ‘‘assassination.”
Iran admitted on Saturday that it mistakenly shot down Ukrainian flight 752 on January 8 shortly after it took off from in Tehran that killed all 176 people on board.
Death of Soleimani: “Disgrace for the US administration”
Soleimani’s death was a “disgrace for the US administration,” Khamenei said, adding that millions in Iran and thousands in Iraq mourned Soleimani after he was killed.
“Soleimani was the most powerful commander of the resistance front in the region,” Khamenei said, adding that Soleimani was the “real leader fighting against terrorism.”
Soleimani was the commander of the Quds Force, the overseas operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Khamenei said the Quds Force should be viewed as a “humanitarian organization with human values.”
Khamenei said US President Donald Trump is a “clown” who pretends to support Iranians but will betray them.
Trump tweeted in Farsi on January 12 that he was “inspired” by the courage of the Iranian people.
“To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage,” Trump tweeted.
Khamenei’s speech came amid protests in the country over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane and rising tensions with the US.
Khamenei last gave a Friday sermon in February 2012, when he called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and vowed to support anyone confronting it, and warned against any US strikes on Iran over its nuclear program, saying the US would be damaged “10 times over.”