Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, conducted Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time since 2012 and used the platform to praise the country’s retaliatory strike against the U.S. over the killing of one of its top generals. He also appeared to call President Trump a clown who cannot be trusted.
In the rare appearance, Khamenei dismissed the “American clowns” who he said pretend to support the Iranian nation but want to stick their “poisoned dagger” into its back.
“The villainous U.S. government repeatedly says that they are standing by the Iranian people. They lie,” he said. “If you are standing with the Iranian people, it is only to stab them in the heart with their venomous daggers.”
He also insisted Iran would not bow to U.S. pressure after months of crushing sanctions and called Washington’s decision to kill Gen. Qassem Soleimani a “cowardly” hit.
“The shameless U.S. government was disgraced by calling Martyr Soleimani a terrorist when he was recognized by everyone as the most prominent and powerful commander in the fight against terrorism,” he said. “The U.S. government killed Martyr Soleimani, not in the battlefield but thievishly and cowardly.”
Iran, in response to the Jan. 8 airstrikes that billed Soleimani in Baghdad, launched a barrage of ballistic missiles targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. While there were no casualties, the U.S. military said 11 service members were flown out of Al Assad Air Base in Iraq and treated for concussion symptoms.
“The fact that Iran has the power to give such a slap to a world power shows the hand of God,” Khamenei said.
“More important and greater than a military strike, it was a blow to the dignity and awe of the U.S. as a superpower.”