Iran vaunts military, taunts USA as revolution turns 40

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Iran "will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa" to the ground if Washington attacks the Islamic Republic, a commander for its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said earlier Monday to mass crowds celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, according to Russian news channel Sputnik.

On Feb. 11 that year, Iran's military stood down after days of street battles, allowing the revolutionaries to sweep across the country while the government of US -backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi resigned and the Islamic Republic was born.

Large crowds were seen carrying Iranian flags and chanting "Death to Israel, Death to America" - trademark chants of the revolution - on Azadi Square in Tehran today.

In an anniversary celebration in Tehran on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took his own defiant stand against the United States, CNN reported.

Iran's president also insisted that Iranians "have not asked and will not ask for permission" to develop different types of missiles, Rohani said.

Ballistic missile capabilities were on display during the main march, including the Qadr F, a ground-to-ground missile with a 1,950-km (1,220-mile) range, Tasnim news agency said.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who in 2017 expressed hope Iran's "revolution will not reach its 40th birthday", tweeted that after four decades the "Islamic Republic of Iran has failed to fulfill its promises to uphold and safeguard the rights of its citizens".

Rouhani addressed the crowds for almost 45 minutes, lashing out at Iran's enemies - America and Israel - and claiming their efforts to "bring down" Iranians through sanctions will not succeed.

Every year, the anniversary festivities start on February 1 - the day Khomeini returned home from France after 14 years in exile to become the supreme leader as Shiite clerics took power - and continue for 10 days, climaxing on February 11.

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It was not clear whether the amnesty would also apply to political prisoners.

"40 years of corruption".

"I bow in admiration to Iran's resilient people who - despite hardships and grievances - today poured into streets by the millions to mark 40th anniv of their Islamic Revolution, which some in the U.S. wished would never come", Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

In January, Rouhani said Iran was dealing with its worst economic crisis since the Shah was toppled.

The large turnout in state-sponsored rallies, in which USA and Israeli flags were burned, came as Iranians face mounting economic hardships which many blame on the country's clerical leaders.

Many people carried pictures of Khomeini, who died in 1989, and Iran's current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"We are here to support the revolution", the 57-year-old pensioner, who refused to give his first name, told AFP at the event in Tehran.

The large turnout in state-sponsored rallies came as Iranians face mounting economic hardships following the return of U.S. sanctions past year.

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