- The Washington Times
Friday, January 17, 2020

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday said last week’s attack on two military bases in Iraq housing American troops scored a direct hit on the “U.S. image as a superpower.”

In a rare appearance as he led prayer services in Tehran, the ayatollah praised Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian commander who was killed in a U.S. drone strike earlier this month, and hinted that Iran could retaliate further for the fatal attack in Iraq.

“These are the turning points of the history. … [Iran’s] reaction was a military blow, but even beyond, it was a blow to the U.S. image as a superpower,” he said.

The supreme leader also criticized the public support for the Iranian protesters that has been expressed by U.S. lawmakers and administration officials, calling them “clowns” who do not have Iran’s interests at heart.

“They lie. If you are standing by the Iranian [people], it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers,” he continued.

The rare Friday sermon coincided with a press briefing by the U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, who announced the U.S. is imposing sanctions on a commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp who American officials say played a role in the killings of anti-government protesters in Iran last November.

Mr. Hook told reporters that the commander played a role in “gross violations of human rights against protesters … [and] oversaw the massacre of 148 helpless Iranians in the Mashar region.”

He defended the Trump administration’s escalating sanctions on Iran and insisted the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign is “making an enormous difference.”

“The Iranian regime is facing a crisis of legitimacy and credibility,” Mr. Hook said. “We expect that to deepen in 2020.”

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