Iran accusing “US agents” of plunging into armed protesters

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Iranian forces and members of the Revolutionary Guards helped police quell violent unrest in Kermanshah province days ago, accusing “US agents” of plunging into armed protesters, Iranian officials said on Saturday.

Amnesty International said at least 30 people were killed in the western province, making it the hardest hit by protests over the past few days over high gasoline prices and more than 100 deaths nationwide. Iran rejects those figures as “mere speculation”.

The violence appears to be the worst, at least since Iran put down the “green revolution” in 2009, when dozens of protesters were killed over several months.

“All the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij (paramilitary), the Ministry of Intelligence, the police and the army have been actively involved in controlling the situation,” Parviz Alizadeh, head of the Kermanshah judiciary, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

Tuslizade said the rioters were armed and “confronted (security) elements … and burned public property,” it said.

“Rioters are following the anti-revolutionary groups (opposition abroad) and the US intelligence services,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Bahman Rehani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards in Kermanshah, as saying.

Rihani did not name those groups. Iranian Kurdish armed groups have long operated in the region bordering Iraq.

Officials have previously blamed “outlaws” for inciting unrest with links to dissidents abroad and foreign enemies, usually a reference to the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel. The protests led to the arrest of about 1,000 demonstrators.

The Revolutionary Guards said calm had returned across Iran on Thursday.

Revolutionary Guards spokesman Brigadier-General Ramadan Sharif said pro-Shah elements seeking to restore the Pahlavi dynasty, ousted by the 1979 Islamic revolution, to power had sparked the protests, as well as the armed opposition People’s Mujahedeen.

He said groups of “separatists” had also taken part, apparently in reference to Arab and Kurdish factions.

Sharif was also quoted as saying that the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel “and their intelligence services have helped fuel those events to destabilize the country.”

Protests erupted in several parts of the country on November 15 after the government announced a rise in gasoline prices by at least 50 percent. The protests spread to 100 cities and towns where protesters demanded the resignation of top state officials.

State television aired footage of thousands of pro-government rallies in several cities on Saturday.

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