Khamenei to lead Friday prayers amid Iran tumult


Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years.

At home and overseas, they have been under pressure after the military admitted to mistakenly shooting down a passenger airliner in Tehran earlier this month. "Death to Khamenei" was chanted at protests and spray painted on walls of Tehran and other cities. They are meant to be a show of support for Iran's armed forces and Revolutionary Guards.

Khamenei said Iran's enemies had seized on the plane tragedy in a bid to undermine the Islamic republic.

"Our enemies were as happy about the plane crash as we were sad. happy that they found something to question the Guard, the armed forces, the system". That, plus Iran's support for some Iraqi political parties and politicians, has divided Iraq and is leaving it weakened-in contrast to USA and Western efforts to help Iraqis build a united, federal Iraq that would not threaten its neighbors. "You're lying", Khamenei said.

Eleven American troops were treated for concussions after Iranian missiles struck two Iraqi bases where the servicemembers were stationed, the military said on Thursday, contradicting earlier statements by President Trump that no Americans had been injured.

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Rouhani, who instigated the negotiations, made the comments while justifying his nuclear policy and Iran's progressive disengagement from the accord.

He said Britain, France and Germany had launched a dispute mechanism this week to bring Iran back in line with the unraveled 2015 nuclear war. "Until Iran behaves like a normal nation its isolation will only deepen", he said.

Iran has claimed to have arrested 30 people for their role in the plane crash in which all 176 people on board were killed, many of them Iranians and people of Iranian origin.

"Resistance must continue until the region is completely freed from the enemy's tyranny", Khamenei said, in a reference to the United States that renewed his call for US troops to leave neighbouring Iraq and the wider Middle East.

Hours before the plane was shot down, Iranian missiles had also targeted two airbases in Iraq that housed USA forces.

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He appeared to be referring to the reported tearing down of a portrait of the general by protesters in Tehran just days after hundreds of thousands of mourners turned out for his funeral.

Amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, Democrats are quick to call President Trump a war criminal and a threat to our national security. They have searched for a mechanism that would allow them to keep trading with Iran but have been unable to find one that would protect their companies from US sanctions.

The Ukraine International Airlines flight from Tehran to Kiev was downed by Iranian air defenses when the armed forces were on high alert for U.S. reprisals, hours after Iran launched missiles against USA targets in Iraq in retaliation for a United States drone strike that killed top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani on Jan 3.

Khamenei hailed the strikes as a "sign of divine help".

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