TEHRAN, Iran – Iranians started nationwide celebrations Thursday to commemorate the anniversary of the 1979 revolution that ousted a pro-Western monarchy and brought Islamists to power.
State television aired footage of rallies in Tehran and other cities and towns across the country, many of them in frigid winter weather conditions.
The demonstrators chanted traditional slogans against the U.S. and Israel, and the streets in many cities were decorated with anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli banners and posters.
Many Iranian leaders appeared in the rallies. Qassem Soleimani, chief of the Quds Forces of the elite Revolutionary Guard, made a brief appearance.
Some protestors made a point of taunting the United States. At one rally, a group of demonstrators reconstructed a scene from last month of 10 American sailors kneeling in Iranian custody. The sailors were captured after two of their boats mistakenly entered Iranian territorial waters; they were released the next day.
Authorities also displayed an array of weaponry and military hardware, including the Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile and a version of the Shahed drone which flew over a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf last month.
The rallies commemorate Feb. 11, 1979, when followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ousted U.S.-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi. The United States helped orchestrate the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's popular prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, which brought Pahlavi to power and set the stage for decades of mistrust between the countries.