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Iran’s top leader defends Iranian ‘Death to America’ chants

February 8, 2019
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In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with a group of the air force staff in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Khamenei is defending "Death to America" chants that are standard fare at anti-U.S. rallies across Iran but says the chanting is aimed at America's leaders and not its people. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is defending “Death to America” chants that are standard fare at anti-U.S. rallies across Iran but says the chanting is aimed at America’s leaders and not its people.

Khamenei’s website on Friday quoted him as saying the chant means “death to U.S. leaders, death to (President Donald) Trump and John Bolton and (Mike) Pompeo.”

He says the Iranian people “will not stop saying ‘Death to America’ as long as the U.S. acts malicious” toward Iran.

Khamenei was referring to Trump’s State of the Union address this week in which the American president, among other things, said: “We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America.”

Khameini’s remarks come as Iran marks the 40th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution.

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