Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years, amidst tensions with the US, calling officials “American clowns”.
During Friday prayers which he led for the first time in eight years, Khamenei mocked US officials, calling them “American clowns” and criticized France, Germany and the UK as “lackeys” of the US that can’t be trusted.
He also expressed condolences to the families of the passengers of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, which crashed after the plane took off at Imam Khomeini airport. Majority of the passengers from the crash, which happened at 06:12 local time, were from Iran and Canada.
Since it’s rare for Khamenei to lead Friday prayers, the move was perceived to be an effort to rally support.
Two weeks ago, US President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport, killing Qasem Soleimani, a key Iranian military commander. Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force unit.
According to the Pentagon, the attack was a “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad” that was intended to deter “future Iranian attack plans.” It also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
During the sermon, Khamenei called the “martyrdom” of Soleimani and Tehran’s retaliation against the US as “acts of God, not man”. He said: “What took place could not have been the work of any human actor, only the hand of God.”
He added: “The day in which the missiles of [Iran’s Revolutionary Guards] rained down upon the American base, that was also the day of the Almighty.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader continued: “We saw history in the making. These are not normal days. The fact that a power, a nation, does possess the spiritual strengths in order to respond to the biggest bullying power in the world with such a slap in the face, this shows the divine hand, the hand of God.”