COVID-19 : Khamenei refuses American assistance

Tehran[Iran], Mar 23 (ANI): Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei refused American assistance to fight the coronavirus citing a conspiracy theory, claiming it could be man-made by the United States government.

His comments came as Iran faces crushing US sanctions blocking the country from selling its crude oil and accessing international financial markets, Al Jazeera reported.

While Iran in recent days has increasingly criticised those sanctions, 80-year-old Khamenei instead questions the real origins of the virus.

"I do not know how real this accusation is but when it exists, who in their right mind would trust you to bring them medication?" Khamenei said. "Possibly your medicine is a way to spread the virus more."

He also alleged the virus "is specifically built for Iran using the genetic data of Iranians, which they have obtained through different means".

However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced Ayatollah Khamenei's remarks on Monday, saying his "lies" were endangering people's lives.

The statement also mentioned "failed" steps taken by Iran to counter the virus as "facts that Iran regime would like to keep from the world".

The US secretary of state accused Iran of "putting millions of lives at risk and infecting its people with running 55 flights between Tehran and China in February, ignoring repeated warnings from its own health officials, and denying its first death from the coronavirus for at least nine days". (ANI)