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Iran's Khamenei Appears in Public Following Health Rumours, Vows Revenge Against Soleimani's Killers

© AP Photo / Office of the Iranian Supreme LeaderSupreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting with judiciary officials in Tehran, Iran
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting with judiciary officials in Tehran, Iran - Sputnik International
The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been in power since 1989, when he took over following the death of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ruhollah Khomeini. However, he has had health issues in the past, and in 2014 had surgery on his prostate.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has met with organisers of events to mark the first anniversary of the killing of senior Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack in Iraq in January this year, Iranian media reported.

It was Khamenei’s first public appearance since rumours of his deteriorating health started circulating earlier this month. Last week it was reported that Khamenei may have transferred power to his 51-year-old son, Sayyid Mojtaba Hosseini Khamenei, who currently oversees several security and intelligence departments in the country.

Photos of the meeting posted on Khamenei’s official website showed him wearing a face mask and social distancing while meeting with members of Soleimani's family.

Khamenei later fired off a series of tweets threatening vengeance on those who killed Soleimani "at the right time."

Khamenei, who is 81 now, has been serving as supreme leader since 1989, with the final say on all state matters. His health has been the subject of speculation for the past decade.

If he does step down, his long-term successor would be chosen by the Assembly of Experts, which currently consists of 88 ayatollahs. 

Earlier this year, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank said it is likely that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would also seek a role in the succession, due to its influence on the Assembly of Experts.

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