Iran supreme leader accuses U.S. of terrorism
In this photo released by the Iranian supreme leader's office, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, arrives at the ceremony of the 22nd anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, in his mausoleum just outside Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)
The Associated Press
Date: Saturday Jun. 25, 2011 8:09 AM ETTEHRAN, Iran — Iran's supreme leader on Saturday accused the United States of supporting terrorism, pointing to American drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan that allegedly have killed scores of civilians.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said a country whose military forces are responsible for such deaths can't lecture the world about fighting terror.
Strong anti-U.S. salvos are heard regularly from Iran's leadership. But Saturday's statement by Khamenei also reverberated the depth of rift between Iran and the U.S. on who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter.
"The U.S. and European governments that follow it describe Palestinian combatant groups who fight for liberation of their land as terrorists," Khamenei said in a written message to an international conference on combating terrorism that opened Saturday in Tehran.
However, Khamenei said Israeli military strikes against civilian targets or assassination of Palestinians by Israeli security agents are not condemned by the West as acts of terrorism.
Iranian leaders say Palestinian groups and the Lebanese Hezbollah are fighting to liberate their occupied lands. Iran openly praises groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings and other attacks.
Khamenei said Iran was a victim of U.S. "terrorism" for the 1988 downing of an Iranian passenger plane by the warship USS Vincennes, killing all 290 people aboard. The U.S. Defence Department said at the time that the crew mistook the plane for a hostile aircraft, which Iran rejects.