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Trump warns Iran's supreme leader to be 'careful with his words'

The Hill logo The Hill 1/17/2020 Morgan Chalfant
Ali Khamenei, Donald Trump are posing for a picture: Ayatollah Khamenei and Donald Trump © Getty Images Ayatollah Khamenei and Donald Trump

President Trump on Friday warned Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khameni to be "very careful with his words," after he used a rare public address to deride "American clowns" and defend Iran's military.

"The so-called 'Supreme Leader' of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe," Trump, who is in Palm Beach, Fla., for a fundraiser, tweeted Friday evening. "Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!"

Khamenei used his first sermon in Tehran in eight years to rail against the recent U.S. strike against Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and claim that Iran's retaliatory missile attack on Iraqi bases had dealt a "blow to America's image." He also claimed the U.S. only pretends to support the Iranian people but actually wants to "push a poison dagger" into their backs.

Slideshow by photo services

Trump has recently voiced support for anti-government protesters in Iran who have demonstrated against Tehran's apparently accidental downing of a Ukrainian jetliner in the country.

Trump authorized what his administration has described as a defensive airstrike against Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Officials have accused Soleimani, who led the Quds Force, a designated terrorist organization, of plotting imminent attacks that threatened American lives, though they've offered few details and at times conflicting information about the alleged plots.

The strike came after a series of escalatory actions blamed on Iran and its proxies in the Middle East, and raised concerns about the possibility it would stoke further conflict in the region.

Following Iran's missile strike on bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, Trump claimed that the nation appeared to be "standing down" and imposed sanctions on Tehran while holding off on further military engagement.

The missile strikes did not result in any American deaths, though reports surfaced late Thursday that 11 troops were treated for traumatic brain injury following the attack despite officials claiming at the time there were no casualties.

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