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Iran Denies Reports of Khamenei’s Demise

As if battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world, a crumbling economy, a near-global embargo and repeated assassinations of its top officials weren’t enough, Iran on Monday was forced to push back against persistent rumors of the death of its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “By the grace of God and with the good prayers of devotees, [Khamenei] is in good health and is busy vigorously carrying out his plans according to his routine,” Mehdi Fazaeli, the closest official working with the Ayatollah, tweeted Monday. Earlier on Monday and over the weekend, news agencies in the United States and Israel reported the 81-year-old leader’s health was fast deteriorating, some even declaring him dead. Several journalists claimed Khamenei had transferred duties to his son, though Tehran officials have since denied that, too. The supreme leader has served in office since the death of his predecessor and founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989. He has final say on all state and religious matters in Iran.