Iran's top leader welcomes missile attacks against US troops in Iraq as "God's Day"

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<pre><pre>Iran's top leader welcomes missile attacks against US troops in Iraq as "God's Day"

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei delivers a speech during a press conference in Tehran on May 9, 2018, about Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Press Office of the Iranian Leader | Handout | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday that Tehran's decision to attack military bases that house US troops in Iraq was a "day of God."

The 80-year-old said the United States had shown its terrorist nature by killing former Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani before the "attack" was a shame on President Donald Trump's government.

His comments came when he led Friday prayers for the first time in eight years.

The Islamic Republic is currently struggling with heightened tensions between the United States and Iran since Soleimani's death and widespread protests after the accidental launch of a passenger plane that killed all 176 people on board, most of whom were Iranian citizens.

Many participants in the rallies have called for the resignation of the country's leading politicians.

The Iranian government admitted it accidentally shot down the Ukrainian International Airlines passenger jet on January 11 after denying a role in the crash for days.

Khamenei delivered the weekly sermon for the first time since 2012, saying that US sanctions in connection with a dispute over his nuclear program would not bring Tehran to a standstill.

Increased tension

Iranian Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone attack on January 3. This was the most dramatic escalation between Washington and Tehran in a series of attacks. Western armed forces and embassies in the region have been on high alert ever since.

The attack retaliated Iran by firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at Ain al-Asad Air Base in the western Iraqi province of Anbar and a base in Irbil in the north of the country.

No US soldiers were killed in the attack, but several were treated for concussions, the Pentagon said in a statement earlier this week.

In a television speech after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi air bases, Trump said Tehran appeared to have "stopped" after an initial surge in tension.

The Trump administration has claimed that its decision to kill Soleimani was made in part because it "actively developed plans to attack American diplomats and members of Iraq and the entire region".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani struck the United States and Europe on Wednesday, criticizing their military presence in the Middle East during an angry speech on state television.

According to a Reuters translation, US troops in the Middle East are currently "unsafe" before EU troops may also be at risk. It was the first time that he threatened European armed forces in the region.

– CNBC's Natasha Turak contributed to this report.