Quds Day rallies kick off across Iranian cities

On Friday, demonstrations were held around the world to mark the International Quds Day, an annual display of solidarity with Palestinians and condemnation of the Israeli policies.

Many protesters on Friday carried photos of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who also founded Quds Day.

The Tehran metro was operating for free, taking Iranians to and from the University of Tehran, where the main weekly Muslim prayers were held.

President Hassan Rouhani joined the march in Tehran, hitting out at a new sanctions bill approved by the United States senate.

The missile strikes were Iran's first in more than a decade, according to reports, and came in response to attacks this month on the parliament building and a shrine in Tehran that were blamed on Islamic State militants.

"We are here to express our hatred against Saudi Arabia, Israel and America", said Zahedi, 57.

Iran's ballistic missile programme has been the subject of persistent concern in Washington and the target of repeated USA sanctions. Al-Quds is the Muslim name for Jerusalem.

He added that the occasion is the clearest way to activate unity among Muslims regarding the issue of Palestine.

The Iranian demonstrators chanted anti-Israeli and anti-US slogans during the rallies.

Sadegh Sofiyani, a retired teacher, said protesters were "soldiers of the supreme leader", Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said in 2015 that Israel would cease to exist in 25 years.

The statement further referred to the strategies and scenarios used by the global arrogance to provide security for the Zionist regime of Israel, stating that in the current grave situation, in addition to proxy wars by Takfiri terrorists in the West Asia, unfortunately some regional countries are normalizing ties with the Zionist regime and compromising with Israel which has created a new situation that could threaten the oppressed Palestinian people.

During a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi on Wednesday in advance of Al-Quds Day, Rouhani told reporters that "combating terrorism must not make us forget the issue of Al-Quds and the threats the Zionist regime poses to the region".

Authorities unveiled a large countdown panel at Palestine Square in central Tehran, displaying the number of "days left before the destruction of Israel".

Iran holds al-Quds day rallies held each year on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to end this weekend.

The figure of 8,411 days - or just over 23 years - on the panel is based on a speech which Khamenei gave almost two years ago predicting Israel would no longer exist by 2040.

  • Leroy Wright