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Iranians Mark Anniversary of Tehran's U.S. Embassy Takeover

36 Years Ago: Iranians Storm U.S. Embassy in Tehran 1:24

TEHRAN — American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama were set ablaze on Wednesday as thousands gathered to mark the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the Iranian capital's U.S. Embassy.

New and large anti-U.S. propaganda posters — including one mocking the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima — were spotted in Tehran.

An NBC News reporter estimated the crowds at the demonstration numbered in the thousands.

"We are here to say, 'down with the USA,'" a 59-year-old teacher who gave his name as Abdolah said. "We will never.. let to open this embassy again. It was not embassy — it was a place for spies."

"If the embassy opened...I would set it on fire," added a housewife named Alibakhshi. "Me and my children are ready to...give our lives."

'Death to America': Iranian Anger at Hostage-Crisis Anniversary Rally 0:30

Anti-U.S. slogans were also chanted — just a day after Iran's supreme leader explained that the familiar "Death to America" refrain was aimed at policies, not people.

Students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979 and took dozens of Americans hostage. The hostages were held for more than 400 days and the crisis prompted the U.S. to sever ties with Iran.