Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vows vengeance in tweet showing golfer resembling Donald Trump

Message on Twitter on Friday shows shadow of a drone passing over a figure resembling former US president

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech, in Tehran, Iran January 8, 2021. Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

A post on Iran's supreme leader's Twitter account on Friday carried the image of a golfer resembling former US president Donald Trump apparently being targeted by a drone, with a message warning of revenge over the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone attack.

The post on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's Farsi account was accompanied by his remarks last month vowing vengeance for the assassination of Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad on January 3 last year.

"Those who ordered the murder of General Suleimani as well as those who carried this out should be punished. This revenge will certainly happen at the right time," Mr Khamenei tweeted on December 16, without naming Mr Trump, who had ordered the strike.

This month, Twitter removed a tweet by Mr Khamenei in which he said US and British-made Covid-19 vaccines were unreliable and might be intended to "contaminate other nations". The platform said the tweet breached its rules on misinformation.

There was no apparent immediate action by Twitter over Mr Khamenei's tweet on Friday, which came two days after Mr Trump was succeeded by Joe Biden.

Iran's leaders and military stepped up warnings of reprisals for Suleimani's death in the weeks leading up to the anniversary of his assassination. Iran launched a barrage of missiles at Iraqi bases hosting US troops days after the attack without causing any casualties, but has repeatedly said that a further response would be forthcoming.

On the anniversary of the assassination, Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi warned that not even Mr Trump was "immune from justice" and that Suleimani's killers would "not be safe anywhere in the world".

Tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated in 2018 when Mr Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. The US then reimposed sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the deal in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear programme.

Mr Biden said Washington will rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran resumes strict compliance.