Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks at a meeting with organizers of programs to commemorate the first martyrdom anniversary of top Iranian and Iraqi anti-terror commanders, General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and a group of their comrades.
The two commanders were martyred in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump near the Baghdad International Airport on January 3. Back then, General Soleimani was in the Iraqi capital on an official visit at the invitation of the Iraqi government, Press TV wrote.
The two figures were highly popular because of the key role they played in eliminating the US-sponsored Daesh terrorist group in the region.
Ayatollah Khamenei recalled the million-strong funerals that were held for the two commanders, saying the “unforgettable” ceremonies “surprised the arrogance’s soft war generals and served as a first severe slap in the face of the Americans.”
The Leader added that Iran’s retaliatory missile strike on the American Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq had been another slap in the face of the Americans
He said a tougher slap will still await the arrogant powers by defeating them in the software sector through the efforts of revolutionary youth and faithful elite, and by expelling the United States from the region through the efforts of countries that are part of the resistance front.
“Of course, this harsh slap will be separate from the revenge that will be exacted on those who ordered and perpetrated General Soleimani's killing, and this revenge is certain [and will be taken] at the [earliest] possible time,” Ayatollah Khamenei added.
The Leader said General Soleimani’s “historic” martyrdom turned him not only into a national hero for Iranians, but also a hero for the entire Muslim world.
“Martyr Soleimani became a hero for the Iranian nation, and people from different strata honored him and expressed their feelings, the reason being that Soleimani was the embodiment of cultural values of Iran and Iranians,” he said.
Ayatollah Khamenei also mentioned courage and the spirit of resistance as two of the prominent characteristics of General Soleimani.
The Leader further said General Soleimani had “wisdom, ingenuity, sacrifice and altruism” and was a man of spirituality and sincerity, not hypocrisy.
General Soleimani defeated arrogance both during his lifetime and with his martyrdom, Ayatollah Khamenei said. “The US president said that they spent 7 trillion dollars in the region but achieved nothing and finally he was forced to visit a military base for a few hours in the dark of night. The whole world acknowledge that the United States has not achieved its goals in Syria and especially in Iraq,”
“The hero of this great work is General Soleimani, which was done during his lifetime,” he added.
Focus on neutralizing sanctions
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Leader advised the people and officials to double their efforts to strengthen the country in economic, science, technology and defense sectors, and not to trust the enemy.
Ayatollah Khamenei further stressed the country should focus on neutralizing the sanctions instead of securing their removal, saying, “The lifting of sanctions is in the hands of the enemy, but neutralizing them is in our own hands.”
“Of course, we do not mean that we should not seek to lift the sanctions, because if the sanctions can be lifted, we should not delay that even by an hour,” he explained.