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Iran’s supreme leader appears in public a day after report that he’s severely ill

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office releases images of him at religious ceremony, which NYT had speculated he might be forced to miss

A photo released by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni's office on September 17, 2022, shows him attending a Arbaeen ceremony in Tehran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)
A photo released by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni's office on September 17, 2022, shows him attending a Arbaeen ceremony in Tehran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared publicly Saturday at a religious ceremony, a day after a report said he may miss the event due to severe illness.

After the state broadcaster initially aired images from a 2019 Arbaeen event, Khamenei’s office released photos of the Iranian leader at the Shiite mourning ceremony on Saturday.

In most of the photos, Khamenei is seen sitting on a bench off to the side of the room as others addressed the assembled students, though several showed him standing.

Khamenei’s appearance at the event in Tehran came after the New York Times reported Friday that he was gravely ill after undergoing surgery last week for a bowel obstruction and had canceled all public meetings, being too weak to even sit up.

The report had speculated Khamenei might not be able to attend the ceremony Saturday given his condition.

According to the report, which cited four people familiar with the matter, Khamenei’s health deteriorated early last week when he began experiencing severe stomach pains. The supreme leader had surgery at a makeshift clinic set up in his home, and his office canceled all public appearances for the rest of the week.

The 83-year-old’s condition was considered critical but has since seen an improvement. However, he is still being monitored closely by doctors, according to the paper.

The Iranian government rarely comments on the health of its supreme leader and has not done so in this case either.

Questions regarding Khamenei’s health have made headlines several times in recent years and there have even been false claims about the death of the supreme leader, who has ruled Iran since 1989.

Khamenei underwent a successful prostate cancer operation in 2014.

The report comes with Iran looking increasingly unlikely to reach an agreement with Western powers on reentry to the nuclear deal that would limit its atomic ambitions.

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