Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS
ANKARA (Reuters) – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday blamed the United States for instability in the Middle East and said Washington’s fight against the Islamic State militant group was “a lie”.
“You (the United States) and your agents are the source of instability in the Middle East…who created Islamic State? America … America’s claim of fighting against Islamic State is a lie,” Khamenei said in a meeting with high-ranking Iranian officials, according to his official website.
Iran and the United States cut diplomatic ties shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and enmity to Washington has long been a rallying point for hardline supporters of Khamenei in Iran.
Khamenei has made several statements denouncing the United States since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, while U.S. President Donald Trump has spoken out against Iran in harsh terms since taking office, indicating that he will reverse the previous admistration’s attempts at rapprochement with Tehran.
The Iranian leader has accused the United States and its regional ally Saudi Arabia of funding hardline Sunni militants, including Islamic State, which carried out its first attack in Iran on Wednesday in Tehran, killing 17 people.
Riyadh has denied involvement in the suicide bombings and gun attacks on Iran’s parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who favours opening up to the world, has condemned the attacks, without pointing a finger at any country.