Iran marks 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution

Rouhani: Iran to continue expanding military might, missile program

Imam Khomeini had lived many years in exile, in Iraq and France, before returning home and leading a historical revolution that overthrew Pahlavi regime.

Prices of bread, cooking oil and other staples have soared since President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the 2015 nuclear deal a year ago and reimposed sanctions.

Iran displayed its ballistic missile capabilities during a parade, including the Zolfaqar, a ground-to-ground missile with a 700 km (435 miles) range and the Qiam, with a range of 800 km, according to Tasnim news agency.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Iranians who had gathered in Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square they should resist a "conspiracy" involving Washington.

This year's celebrations come amid heightened tensions with the United States, which last year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers and reimposed tough sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Iranians march towards Azadi Square during Monday's rally.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that the Iranian government had let down its people. "It has been moving forward over the past 40 years and making Iran stronger".

An Iranian woman carries a picture of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran, Iran February 11, 2019. The regime in Iran has produced only #40YearsofFailure.

He said: "The presence of people today on the streets all over Islamic Iran means that the enemy will never reach its evil objectives".

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Iranian leaders say they are protecting national interests.

Iran was determined to expand its military power and ballistic missile programme despite pressure from hostile countries, state TV reported Rouhani as saying.

"The United States does not have the courage to shoot a single bullet at us despite all its defensive and military assets".

"The Iranian people have and will have some economic difficulties but we will overcome the problems by helping each other", he said. "But if they attack us, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground", Brig.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to respond saying later on Monday it would mark Iran's last revolution anniversary if it attacked any cities in Israel.

"If this regime makes the bad mistake and tries to destroy Tel Aviv or Haifa, it won't be successful and it will be the last anniversary of their revolution they will ever celebrate". "They should take this into account", Netanyahu said in a warning to his country's archfoe.

Elsewhere, the head of the elite Quds Force of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, attended the rally in the southern city of Kerman.

In a report coinciding with the celebrations, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that 61,900 political prisoners had been held in Iran since the 1980s.

Today, the United States, its Arab allies and Israel are trying to counter Tehran's growing influence in the Middle East, where it has proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

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