Chants of ‘Death to America’ as Iran marks 1979 crisis

Chants of ‘Death to America’ as Iran marks 1979 crisis

TEHRAN - Thousands of Iranians shouted "Death to America" as they rallied Monday on the anniversary of the 1979 US embassy takeover, in a setback to hopes for a thaw in relations.

Hardline and conservative factions had called for a massive demonstration 34 years after Islamist students stormed the embassy compound in Tehran, holding 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.

The crisis, which went on to become a turning-point for Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, led to the severance of diplomatic ties with Washington and decades of hostility.

Calls for a high rally turnout went out on state television despite a recent taboo-breaking telephone chat between the Iranian and American presidents against a backdrop of growing signals of rapprochement between the arch foes.

The main demonstration was held in front of the former US embassy complex in central Tehran, with protesters waving anti-American banners, chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," and burning the US and Israeli flags.

Effigies of US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be seen held aloft by protesters, a considerable portion of whom were students.

Similar gatherings were reported in other cities across the Islamic republic, according to footage broadcast on state television, in what appeared to be some of the largest November 4 rallies in years.

Hardline ex-nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who has been sidelined since his unsuccessful bid for presidency in July, defended the seizure of the embassy in his keynote speech.

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