Hundreds of thousands in Iran mark 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution

Hezbollah supporters hold images of the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenai during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution in Beirut on Fe

Iranians thronged streets across the country, many with portraits of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shiite cleric who toppled the Shah in the historic Islamic uprising.

State television showed crowds defying cold rainy weather and carrying Iranian flags while shouting "Death to Israel, Death to America" - trademark chants of the revolution.

On Feb 11, 1979, Iran's army declared its neutrality, paving the way for the collapse of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the United States's closest ally in the Middle East.

"We have not asked and will not ask for permission to develop different types of. missiles and will continue our path and our military power", President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech at Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) square.

"We do not and we will not ask permission for producing any type of missiles from anybody", Rouhani said from Tehran Monday, though he stressed that Iran would "continue constructive engagement" with the global community.

Life-size replicas of Iranian-made cruise and ballistic missiles stood in a statement of defiance after the U.S. past year reimposed sanctions following its withdrawal from a deal on Tehran´s nuclear programme.

"The Iranian people have and will have some economic difficulties [due to the sanctions] but we will overcome the problems by helping each other", Rouhani said in his address.

The large turnout at these state-sponsored rallies comes as Iranians faces rising prices and food shortages which have triggered waves of protests.

President Donald Trump called out the Iranian regime for producing 40 years of "corruption", "repression" and "terror" in a tweet Monday on the anniversary of the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The Israeli prime minister's comments came in direct response to IRGC political affairs spokesman Yadollah Javani, who warned earlier on Monday that Iran would attack Israel if threatened by Washington.

But despite the official festivities today´s Islamic republic faces acute economic challenges as it struggles with a mix of domestic hardships and United States sanctions.

"The world saw when Iran made a decision to help people of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen, they achieved victory". Iranian leaders say they are protecting national interests.

Dismissing calls that Iranian regional influence should be curbed, the deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was quoted as saying on February 11 that "the enemy can not ask us to leave the region". "The enemies are now confessing to their defeat", said Rouhani.

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In a report coinciding with the celebrations, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that 61,900 political prisoners had been held in Iran since the 1980s.

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