Iran releases rare photo of Khamenei with Hezbollah chief

Iran releases rare photo of Khamenei with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah
3 min read
29 September, 2019
A rare photo published on Iran's supreme leader's official website shows Nasrallah with Khamenei and Qassem Soleimani - the commander of Iran's elite Qods Force.
The photo was released on the official supreme leader's website [Getty]
Iran has released a "never before seen" photo of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei alongside Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah. 

The photo published on the supreme leader's official website shows Nasrallah with Khamenei on his right and Qassem Soleimani - the commander of Iran's elite Qods Force - on his left.  

The three men are shown in front of what appears to be a door covered by a curtain and surrounded by shelves stacked with books - decor associated with Khamenei's Tehran office. 

Before a 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, Nasrallah often openly visited the Iranian capital, but since then his public appearances have been limited. 

Iran's support for Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad are an enduring feature of the Islamic republic's foreign policy.

The photo - first published on Wednesday and still available on Saturday - has received little coverage in other Iranian media.

The picture will make the inaugural cover of a new magazine - Massir (the Path) - soon to be launched by khamenei.ir, the supreme leader's website said, while noting that the issue will publish elements of a "five hour interview" with Nasrallah.  

The text references "a never before seen photo", but does not confirm the date or place where it was taken.

An advertisement on the supreme leader's website says that Massir will publish "for the first time... images of meetings" between Nasrallah and Khamenei. 

The website also published around a dozen photos of Nasrallah taken "during an exclusive discussion" with officials from the supreme leader's office, again without detailing the place and timing of the pictures. 

One of the photos shows Nasrallah sitting in an armchair in front of portraits affixed to a wall of the supreme leader and his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. 

Two other pictures show the Hezbollah leader in conversation with two unidentified men.

Both Hezbollah and Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), are designated as terrorist organisations by the United States.

The move against the IRGC prompted President Hassan Rouhani to launch accusations against the US, which he described as the real 'leader of world terrorism’.

"Who are you to label revolutionary institutions as terrorists?" Rouhani asked in a speech broadcast live by state television.

The Islamic Republic's president accused US forces of having always been directly or indirectly involved with terrorist groups or acts of terrorism.

"You want to use terrorist groups as tools against the nations of the region... you are the leader of world terrorism.

"Who is propagating and encouraging terrorism in today's world? Who wanted to use ISIS (the Islamic State group) as a tool?" Rouhani asked, suggesting the US is harbouring the leaders of the jihadi organisation.

"Even now America is hiding the heads of ISIS, even now they are not prepared to tell the regional governments where the heads of ISIS are hiding."

To support his accusations, Rouhani cited the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 in July 1988 by missiles fired from the US naval ship the USS Vincennes.

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif at the time also urged President Hassan Rouhani to place US forces in Western Asia on Tehran's list of "terrorist" groups.

Zarif wrote to Rouhani asking him "to put the American Forces in Western Asia known as CENTCOM on the Islamic Republic of Iran's list of terrorist groups", the ministry said.

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