US President Donald Trump has warned the supreme leader of Iran to watch his language, following a heated sermon in which Ayatollah Ali Khamenei minced no words, slamming American leaders as “clowns.”
Leading a prayer in Tehran on Friday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei boasted that Iran had the “spirit to slap an arrogant, aggressive global power” in its retaliation to the assassination of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, which he said struck a “serious blow” to Washington’s “dignity” – triggering a response from the US president.
“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 tweeted. “Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!”
In his sermon, Khamenei blasted “American clowns,” who he said “lie in utter viciousness that they stand with the Iranian people,” referring to recent comments by Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The exchange of barbs comes at a time of soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran after the US assassination of Soleimani.
“[Soleimani was] the anti-terrorist Commander of the whole region,” Khamenei said.
The killing of the revered Iranian general, who played a major role in pushing back the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, sparked outrage across the Middle East, with the Iraqi parliament voting to kick US troops out of the country earlier this month.
Moments after penning what appears to be his response to the Iranian leader, Trump followed it up with another pair of tweets – one in English, the other in Farsi – stating that the “noble people of Iran … deserve a government that will help them achieve their dreams,” adding that they “love America.”
“Instead of leading Iran toward ruin, its leaders should abandon terror and Make Iran Great Again!”, Trump tweeted in a spin-off on his campaign slogan.
Iran responded to the Soleimani strike by firing a series of missiles at Iraqi Ain al-Assad airbase housing US troops. While the retaliation resulted in no casualties, the Pentagon reported Thursday that 11 troops displayed symptoms of a concussion after the attack and had to undergo additional check-ups in Germany and Kuwait. Amid fears that a major regional conflict might break out, the US refrained from further military action, but tightened its sanctions pressure on Tehran, unleashing yet another wave of crippling economic penalties.