July 23, 2019 / 11:23 AM / a month ago

Top Khamenei aide hails Iran's downing of U.S. drone, tanker seizure

FILE PHOTO: Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top adviser on international affairs, smiles as he listens to questions from the media during a news conference after meeting with Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the government palace in Beirut May 18, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

DUBAI (Reuters) - A top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday praised Iran’s recent downing of a U.S. drone and seizure of a British-flagged tanker as turning points in “Muslims’ struggle”, the semi-official news agency Fars said.

Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei’s top foreign policy adviser, told a visiting delegation from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that Iran and its regional allies would stand with the Palestinians against Israel and the United States.

“Islamic countries and the resistance front are today stronger than before as shown by the seizure of the British oil tanker or the downing of the U.S. drone which violated Iran’s territory - which are milestones in the history of Muslims’ struggle,” Velayati said, according to Fars.

Iran often refers to regional countries and forces opposed to Israel and the United States as a “resistance front”.

“The recent events are a sign that Iranians and the resistance front stand against bullying by Zionism (Israel) and the United States, and we are sure that other Muslim countries’ hearts are with the Palestinians and Iran will continue to support the Palestinian people,” Velayati was quoted as saying.

The Hamas delegation, led by the group’s deputy chief Saleh Al-Arouri, met in Tehran on Monday with Khamenei, who condemned the U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan dubbed as “the Deal of the Century”.

Khamenei said Washington’s blueprint to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians through economic development fuelled by international investment, without reference to a future state that Palestinians seek, was a “dangerous plot” to destroy Palestinian identity with money.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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