December 16, 2020
(Reuters) – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei held his first public function on Wednesday since rumours surfaced of his deteriorating health, Iranian state media reported.
Khamenei met organisers of events to mark the first anniversary of the killing of senior Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone attack in Iraq, according to state broadcaster IRIB, the official IRNA news agency and several other Iranian media.
Photos of the meeting posted on Khamenei’s official website showed him wearing a face mask and sitting at the head of a large room with several attendees seated to either side, in accordance with COVID-19 social distancing protocols.
The meeting took place after rumours on social media earlier this month that the 81-year-old’s health was deteriorating.
Several news organisations had reported the rumours, referring to a tweet by a journalist in Arabic who said Khamenei had transferred duties to his son because of his health.
Khamenei has served as supreme leader since 1989, with the final say on all state matters. His health has been the subject of speculation for years.
(firstname.lastname@example.org; Editing by Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan)