TEHRAN: The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Wednesday that a string of anti-government protests were over after six days of unrest.
In comments to the semiofficial Fars news agency, Mohammad Ali Jafari said that only 15,000 people had turned out at the height of the rallies and that the main “troublemakers” have been arrested.
“Today, we can say it is the end of ‘sedition 1396,’ ” Jafari said, using the year in the Iranian calendar.
“With the help of God, their defeat is definite,” he said.
Jafari offered no evidence of how the movement had been defeated beyond the arrests, and his comments appeared to be a warning against more rallies.
The protests began last Thursday over Iran’s stagnant economy and the rising cost of living but quickly have developed into a broader outcry against the government.
They have become the most powerful challenge to the Iranian government’s authority since mass demonstrations in 2009.
The numbers turning out for rallies have dwindled in recent days, according to Los Angeles Times Tehran correspondent Ramin Mostaghim, but the protests continued Tuesday night in at least 10 cities.
Authorities have detained at least 450 people, and 21 others have been killed in the unrest.
Three members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed during clashes with “anti-revolution agents” along the border in western Piranshahr region, the semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported, citing a statement from Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. The statement did not say whether the fighting was connected to the anti-government protests.
Counterprotests through Iran
On Wednesday, thousands of government supporters marched through the capital, Tehran, state TV IRIB reported, with some chanting “Death to America” after Iranian officials blamed the United States and its allies for provoking the anti-government rallies.
Online state media reported a mix of people – families, senior citizens and students – were among the demonstrators, but images on television were mostly of middle-aged and older men. Many held pictures of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and waved national flags.