Hundreds arrested, at least 21 dead as Iran protests rage on

Hundreds arrested, at least 21 dead as Iran protests rage on

Donald Trump has issued a strongly worded tweet warning Iran that "the U.S. is watching" following the deaths of 20 people in anti-government protests that are sweeping the country.

"The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime". The Iranian people are fed up with the corruption and human rights violations.

An Iranian government spokesman, lashing out at US support for the protesters, insisted that Iranian citizens enjoyed the right to free speech and assembly unlike in other Middle Eastern countries allied with Washington.

"This time the police is trying to work with people and you see less violence, but there are other groups that are being controlled by Revolutionary Guard that have no mercy for people", Valinasab said.

The Trump administration and members of Congress are working on a new set of nuclear-and missile-related Iran sanctions that would replace the 2015 nuclear agreement, Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview.

And on Tuesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Iran's "enemies" for stirring up unrest in the country, though he didn't mention Trump by name.

Iranian women hold Iran national flags as they take part in a stat organized rally against anti-government protests in the country, in the city of Ahvaz, south west Iran, Jan. 3, 2018.

While this latest round of protests hasn't achieved the same scale as 2009's Green Movement, it has been notable for the way it has drawn protesters not just from the country's major cities, but in smaller towns and provinces - something Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told PBS Monday made for protests "unprecedented" in scope.

President Trump tweeted, "such respect for the #People Of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government".

"They have gone out and voted for President Hassan Rouhani and supported reformists all these years but to no result".

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He has taken to Twitter multiple times since the protests erupted last week.

A senior Iranian security official on Tuesday accused Saudi Arabia, the US and Britain of being "major players" behind recent anti-government protests.

Some videos showed protesters chanting "Death to the dictator!" and "Death to Rouhani", the Iranian president.

An Iranian woman has been hailed a "hero" after taking off her hijab in public in an apparent protest against strict Islamic dress code.

In the central city of Najafabad, a demonstrator opened fire on police with a hunting rifle, killing one and wounding three others, state television said.

"In recent days, enemies of Iran used different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles for the Islamic Republic", he said in statement, according to Reuters.

In his letter, Iranian UN envoy Gholamali Khoshroo said the USA had a track record of intervening in Iranian affairs.

His aides have singled out the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia as the culprits.

The demonstrations, the largest to strike Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, began on Thursday in Mashhad over Iran's weak economy and a jump in food prices and have spread to several cities. "We expect that the right of peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression will be guaranteed".

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