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Millions in Iran Chant “Down with America,” Burn Flags, as Nuke Talks Extended in Vienna

Millions of Iranians took to the streets today in celebration of al-Quds Day, an annual Iranian festival commemorated on the final Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that features massive anti-American and anti-Israel protests. This year, the protests took place against the backdrop of the ongoing nuclear diplomacy between the P5+1 powers and Tehran.

The Times of Israel reported:

Some protesters in Tehran burned Israeli and American flags. Posters showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi King Salman and US President Barack Obama in flames. …

“Terrorist groups such as Daesh and Al-Nusra, with the support of the Zionists and Saudi’s cruel war against the oppressed people of Yemen… have created a new situation in the region and the world,” the official IRNA news agency quoted [General Yahya Rahim] Safavi as saying. …

The crowd in Tehran chanted “Down with US, Israel and the House of Saud,” and carried placards that declared “Zionist soldiers kill Muslims” and “the Saudi family will fall.”

Protesters chanted ‘Down with America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ as they set fire to Israeli and American flags. Saudi Arabia was also a target of the chants this year, reflecting the escalating tensions between the Kingdom and Iran. After Iranian-backed Houthi rebels took control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa and ousted the Yemeni government earlier this year, the Saudis retaliated with an extensive air campaign targeting the rebel faction.

Alongside the flags, protestors also set fire to posters of President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. Iranians, dressed as Israeli soldiers, staged mock checkpoints and pretended to threaten passersby with batons and guns. “We stand behind Palestine until its people are freed,” said Ahmad Moghadam, a 67-year-old clerk. The main slogan of this year’s al-Quds Day denounced the killing of children in Gaza and Yemen, along with chants of “Down with US, Israel and the House of Saud.” Protestors also held placards that declared “Zionist soldiers kill Muslims” and “the Saudi family will fall.”

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted: “There are two sides in oppression: oppressor & the oppressed. We back the oppressed and are against oppressors.”” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was also present at the protests in Tehran.

The rallies coincided with the deadlock in the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations, which include the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany. Tensions in Vienna continue to mount as the West has balked over recent demands by Iran, which is in turn accusing the West of making “excessive demands.” Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday that the talks have been extended, but set no new deadline and indicated that Iran would have to make “tough decisions” if it wanted to secure a deal.

Earlier this week, Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, a commander of the Iranian ground forces, said Iran should never view the US positively, even if a deal is signed with world powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

[Photo: Zahra M / YouTube ]