Iran's supreme leader says missile strike is a 'slap' at U.S.
Updated 22:20, 08-Jan-2020

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday in an address to the nation said "we slapped them (Americans) on the face last night" with a missile strike on U.S. military bases in Iraq, calling for an end to U.S. presence in the heated region. 

"Last night, we slapped them on the face," he said, with the crowd responding with chants of "death to America".

"When it comes to confrontation, military action of this kind is not enough," Khamenei said, calling on all Iranians to unite against the aggression from U.S. - Iran's enemy.

He added that the "corrupt presence of the United States in the region should come to an end," saying it has caused war, division, and destruction.

"Iran is equipped against the bullies of the world."  

Khamenei spoke hours after Iran launched missile attacks in Iraq used by U.S. forces. The strike was in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran's commander of Quds Force Qassem Soleimani.

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Iran's supreme leader also invoked the virtues of the slain commander, saying Soleimani was a "great, brave warrior" and "dear friend to us." 

Huge crowds in Iran gathered to mourn Soleimani's death last week in the airstrike in Baghdad.

'We don't retreat'

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on the same day said the Islamic republic's response on Wednesday to the U.S. strike shows "we don't retreat in the face of America". 

"If America has committed a crime... it should know that it will receive a decisive response," Rouhani said in a televised address. "If they are wise, they won't take any other action at this juncture." 

Rouhani said it would not be enough if Iran's armed forces hit back for any other action taken by the United States. "In my view, America must receive the main response from the nations of the region," he said. 

"They cut off the hand of our dear Soleimani. The revenge for him is to cut off America's feet from this region," Rouhani said. "If America's feet is cut off from this region, and its hand of aggression is cut off for good, this is the real and final response of the nations of the region to America," he added.  

'Legitimate self-defense'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also told state TV that Iran's missile attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq on Wednesday were "legitimate self-defense".

"Our action was a legitimate self-defense and the United States should avoid assessing it based on illusions," Zarif said.