UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Iran will severely punish “mercenaries” arrested in a wave of street violence that erupted after a sharp rise in fuel prices, the deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Sunday.
The Islamic Republic says it has restored calm after unrest across the country on November 15, after authorities suddenly raised the price of gasoline by up to 200 percent.
Fars said on Sunday, citing law enforcement officials, that 180 leaders of the protests had been arrested, which saw highways closed, banks and police stations set on fire and shops looted.
“We will certainly respond according to their brutality,” said Revolutionary Guards deputy commander Admiral Ali Fadavi.
“We have arrested all the agents and mercenaries who made explicit confessions that they were mercenaries to America and others,” he told a news conference in Tehran.
He also said they were linked to the Iranian opposition People’s Mujahedeen, which Tehran regards as a “terrorist” organization.
“We have arrested them all and, God willing, the judiciary will be sentenced to the harshest penalties,” Fadavi said.
The total number of people arrested in connection with the unrest remains unclear, but the UN Human Rights Office put the figure at more than 1,000 on Tuesday.
Fadavi was speaking at a gathering of Basij, the Islamic militia loyal to the ruling establishment in Tehran.
On Friday, the Basij leadership announced that the unrest caused by high fuel prices amounted to a “global war” against Tehran was thwarted, and took responsibility for Washington, Riyadh and Israel.
“There was a world war against the regime and the revolution. Fortunately, the child died the moment he was born,” said Major General Salary Ganoush, deputy head of the Basij militia.
Quoting the semi-official ISNA news agency, Abnoush said the interrogations revealed that the “coalition of evil” made up of “Zionists, America and Saudi Arabia” was behind “sedition”.
Iranian officials confirmed the deaths of five people, while Amnesty International said it believed more than 100 demonstrators had been killed and the real death toll could be as high as 200.
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