Khamenei
© Official Khamenei website/Reuters
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his vote at a polling station.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took aim at foreign media outlets, claiming they did their utmost to "discourage" Iranians from voting this Friday in the parliamentary election.

"This negative propaganda began a few months ago and grew closer to the elections," the supreme leader proclaimed on Sunday. "In the last two days, citing [the danger of] coronavirus, their media did not miss the slightest opportunity to discourage people from voting," he said.

Iran has just confirmed an eighth death from the new coronavirus (Covid-19) this Sunday, with authorities shutting down schools and universities in several provinces to contain the spread.

Thousands of candidates have been competing for 290 seats in the parliament, known as the Guardian Council, or 'Majlis' in Persian. According to preliminary results, Friday's vote will bring more conservatives - affiliated with the powerful Revolutionary Guards - into the national legislature.

According to Fars News Agency, turnout for the election was 42 percent - almost 20 percent less than the 2016 parliamentary vote.

Iran's election was criticized in the US, which has continued its 'maximum pressure' policy since pulling out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Washington announced a new round of sanctions on five Iranian officials in charge of vetting candidates.

The officials in question were responsible "for preventing the Iranian people from freely choosing their leaders," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. The Iranian Foreign Ministry hit back, saying the sanctions show "the failure, frustration and defeat of the US regime's policy of maximum pressure."