Iran. Revolutionary Guard leader tells protesters that today is the last day on the streets | Iran

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard chief told protesters Saturday would be their last day to take to the streets in a sign security forces may step up their crackdown on unrest sweeps the country.

Iran has been plagued by protests since the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, detained by morality police last month, posing one of the boldest challenges to clerical leadership since the revolution in 1979.

“Don’t go down the street. Today is the last day of the riots,” the commander, Hossein Salami, said in some of the harshest language used in the crisis, which Iran’s clerical leaders blame on its foreign enemies, including Israel and United States.

“This sinister plan is a plan hatched…in the White House and in the Zionist regime,” he said.

The Revolutionary Guards, who report directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have not been deployed since the protests began on September 16. They are an elite force with an overwhelming record of dissent.

Rights groups said at least 250 people were killed and thousands arrested across Iran during the protests, which turned into a popular uprising involving all sections of society.

Iran: Police open fire on protesters in southwestern Baloch town of Zahedan – video

Video footage posted to social media on Friday showed protesters calling for the death of Khamenei and the Basij militia, which has played a major role in efforts to defuse the protests.

The country’s intelligence ministry and the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guards have accused spy agencies from the US, UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia of orchestrating the unrest to destabilize the Islamic republic.

Salami, who was speaking at the funeral of victims killed this week in an attack claimed by Islamic State, reiterated that message in a direct address to protesters.

“Don’t sell your honor to America and slap the security forces who defend you,” he said.

Iranians have defied these warnings throughout the revolt in which women have played a leading role. Further bloodshed was reported on Saturday.

Human rights group Hengaw reported that security forces fired on students at a girls’ school in the town of Saqqez. In another message, he said security forces opened fire on students at the Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences in the provincial capital of Sanandaj.

Several students were injured, one of whom was shot in the head, Hengaw said.
Reuters could not verify the report.

Videos posted on social media by activist groups claimed to show protests at a number of universities across the country in cities including Ahvaz, Arak, Kerman, Kermanshah, Mashhad, Qazvin, Yazd and a dozen campuses in the capital, Tehran.

The militant HRANA news agency released a video it said showed protests at a university holding hands in a large circle and chanting: “If we don’t unite, we will be killed one by one.”

HRANA said 272 protesters were killed in the unrest on Friday, including 39 minors. And 34 members of the security forces were also killed. Nearly 14,000 people were arrested in protests in 129 cities and 115 universities, he added.

The United States will shine a UN spotlight on the protests in Iran next week and seek ways to promote credible and independent investigations into Iran’s human rights abuses.

Spokesman for the UN Secretary General, Stéphane Dujarric, on Friday urged the Iranian authorities to respond to the “legitimate grievances of the population, in particular with regard to women’s rights”, and said that the security forces should avoid “any useless or disproportionate use of force” against demonstrators.

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