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Iran’s supreme leader appears publicly, dispelling health rumors

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with top military leaders and Qassem Soleimani’s family, following unverified claims of a deterioration in his health

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting with the family of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in early 2020, and top military leaders, in Tehran, Iran, December 16, 2020. (Official website of the Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting with the family of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in early 2020, and top military leaders, in Tehran, Iran, December 16, 2020. (Official website of the Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared publicly Wednesday, dispelling rumors of a serious deterioration in his health.

Khamenei spoke in Tehran at the Imam Khomeini congregation hall, where he attended a meeting with the family of Revolutionary Guards Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in January in a US drone strike, and top military leaders. They all sat some 5 meters (16 feet) away from the 81-year-old Khamenei, who wore a face mask due to the coronavirus pandemic still raging in Iran.

A video released by Khamenei’s office showed him walking from behind a curtain to his chair while greeting the family, as well as the Revolutionary Guards’ chief Hossein Salami and parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, among other officials.

Last week, an Iranian official rejected rumors that Khamenei had suffered a sudden deterioration in health, or even died.

State TV also denied reports of a meeting of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership, an 88-strong body of elected clerics responsible for appointing and monitoring the supreme leader.

Rumors regarding Khamenei were triggered after London-based Iranian journalist Momahad Ahwaze tweeted that there had been a deterioration in the supreme leader’s health and that those close to him were “very afraid.”

There have been previous false claims about Khamenei’s death.

Before Wednesday, Khamenei’s last public appearance had been on November 24, when he met Iran’s top officials, with videos of the meetings aired by state television.

He underwent a successful prostate cancer operation in 2014.

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