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(RT) — Thousands of Iranians have gathered in Tehran, setting US flags on fire and chanting “Death to America.” The demonstration marks the 33rd anniversary of the taking of the US embassy, in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days.

The demonstrators also shouted anti-British and anti-Israeli slogans, and burnt Israeli flags in front of the former embassy building.

The premises are now controlled by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, and currently serve as a training and educational facility. The building, which is covered in anti-US murals, was named a “den of spies” by the authorities that sponsor the annual commemoration.

On November 4, 1979, Islamist students calling themselves “Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line” invaded the grounds of the US embassy and seized its staff.  Fifty-two US diplomats were held hostage for 444 days.

After failed negotiation attempts, US President Jimmy Carter ordered a rescue mission, which tragically ended in the deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian.

The hostages were finally released to the US after the signing of the Algiers Accords which, among other provisions, included a vow that Washington would not interfere politically or militarily in Iranian internal affairs.

The motives for the hostage-taking date back to 1977, when Carter angered Iranians by giving a televised toast to the country’s then-leader, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, declaring how beloved he was by his people. The move angered Iranians who did not support the shah.

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