Thousands of Iranians mark revolution anniversary amid peak tensions with US

VIDEO: REUTERS
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a public gathering in Teheran on Feb 5, ahead of the 41st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a public gathering in Teheran on Feb 5, ahead of the 41st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBAI (REUTERS) - Tens of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Teheran and other cities on Tuesday morning (Feb 11) to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the Islamic revolution, against a backdrop of escalating tensions with the United States.

State TV showed video footage of rallies in at least half a dozen cities outside the capital, including Mashhad, Ahvaz and Kerman, with people holding signs that read, "Death to America" and "Death to Israel".

Iran almost got into a full-blown conflict with the United States last month after a US drone strike killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan 3, prompting Iran to retaliate with a missile barrage against a US base in Iraq days later.

Tensions spiked between Iran and the United States after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and reimposed sanctions in a bid to pressure Teheran to negotiate over its ballistic missile programme and ties with regional proxy groups.

Missiles were put on display as part of the anniversary celebrations, according to the Tasnim news agency. Iran's state TV showed archival footage of missile launches and underground missile storage facilities as part of its anniversary coverage.

The missile programme is not intended for attacks on neighbouring countries, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday.