Iranians rally to mark anniversary of 1979 US embassy takeover

Demonstration marking the anniversary of the 1979 hostage-taking incident comes as US sanctions against Iran return.

    Thousands of Iranians have rallied in Tehran to mark the 39th anniversary of the US embassy takeover, as Washington prepares to reimpose all sanctions lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.

    The crowd chanted "Down with US" and "Death to Israel" during the rally in the Iranian capital on Sunday, and state TV said similar demonstrations were held in other cities and towns.

    Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi, reporting from Tehran, said the crowd is "bigger" and "angrier" during this year's commemoration.

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    "It has to do with the fact that the anniversary coincides with the deadline by the United States to reimpose sanctions that were lifted by the 2015 nuclear deal," he said.

    "But many Iranians that we spoke to said that this deadline is meaningless and that foreign investment has already been scared off...and that any economic damage has already been done."    

    Shortly after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian students stormed the American embassy, taking 52 hostages for 444 days. The US cut off diplomatic relations in response to the hostage-taking.

    In Iran, November 4 is also known as Student Day and the National Day of the Fight against Global Arrogance.

    Iran's government celebrates the embassy takeover every year as a decisive blow against the United States, which had supported the autocratic rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

    'Den of spies'

    The embassy compound, widely known as the "den of spies," is now a cultural centre.

    Anger and distrust of the US are surging again following President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers despite Tehran's compliance with the agreement, which was negotiated under the Obama administration.

    In May, the Trump administration announced the restoration of sanctions against Iran. The first round took effect in August, while the second round targeting Iran's oil and gas, as well as its shipping and banking industries, will take effect on Monday, November 5.

    Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis and has seen sporadic protests in recent months, as Iranian officials tried to downplay the sanctions and their effects.

    The US said the sanctions are not aimed at toppling the government, but at persuading it to radically change its policies, including its support for regional armed groups and its development of long-range ballistic missiles.

    Iranian leaders said the sanctions are aimed at toppling the government and have ruled out negotiations with the Trump administration.

    At a gathering on Saturday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, portrayed the sanctions as part of a long tradition of American hostility towards the Islamic Republic, which he said had nevertheless prevailed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies