When the website for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published photos of a meeting with the families of Iranian soldiers who died fighting in Syria and Iraq, the pictures were shared widely online. The most striking pictures were of a young boy in a red shirt hugging Khamenei and another of the same boy holding up over his head a picture of his father who had been martyred in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. While the pictures were published Feb. 6, according to Khamenei’s website, the meeting took place nearly one year ago.
It is not clear why the meeting was advertised and made public nearly one year after the fact. But in the face of a rising death toll, there appears to be a push by Iranian leaders to justify its presence in Syria and Iraq. The latest issue of The Line of Hezbollah, a publication dedicated to analyzing the speeches and comments of Khamenei, quoted previously unpublished comments by Khamenei “to the families of martyrs” in Syria and Iraq.