Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei boasted over the Islamic Republic’s ability to strike U.S. targets in Iraq, which he maintains proves ‘divine support’ for his regime.While delivering an Islamic prayer sermon in Tehran this morning, Khamenei stressed that “The fact that Iran has the power to give such a slap to a world power shows the hand of God.”
The Iranian head of state also used the opportunity to address the January 8 downing of Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752, which claimed the lives of 176 people. According to Khamenei, the “unfortunate incident” is currently being exploited by Tehran’s adversaries to overshadow the American assassination of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani.
According to Ali Khamenei, “I want to say that to the same extent that we are saddened and felt grief in our heart by this plane crash, our enemy was overjoyed to the same extent. Our enemy was overjoyed, they thought they had found a lever with which to bring into question the forces, our military forces, to question the Islamic establishment.”
Khamenei reacted to this week’s E3 decision by France, Britain and Germany to activate the dispute mechanism under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement by declaring ‘Europe cannot be trusted.’ He further underscored that regardless of any measures undertaken by the European partners to the accord, the Islamic Republic will never be brought to its knees.
In related news, the U.S. military has confirmed that 11 American service members were injured during the Iranian ballistic missile strike on Iraqi bases that house U.S.-led coalition forces. After having previously stated there were no U.S. casualties in Tehran’s retaliatory attack for Soleimani’s killing, US Central Command Spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said in a statement that “While no US service members were killed in the 8 January Iranian attack on al-Asad airbase, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed.” As a measure of caution, Urban said that some of the injured were evacuated to US facilities in Germany or Kuwait for “follow-on screening.” He further noted that once deemed ‘fit for duty,’ the wounded soldiers “are expected to return to Iraq.”