Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the enemy had been “repelled” in the country where dozens are thought to have died in violent protests sparked by a petrol price hike.
Demonstrations broke out in the sanctions-hit Islamic republic on Friday after it was announced the price of petrol would be raised by as much as 200 percent.
“We have pushed back the enemy in the military arena. We have pushed back the enemy in the political war,” Khamenei said in a speech aired on state television late Tuesday.
“We have repelled the enemy in the arena of security warfare... in recent days,” he said, adding that the unrest had not been the result of a popular movement.
“The recent actions were security issues, not from the people,” he said. “We have repelled the enemy.”
State television, which rarely shows any signs of dissent in Iran, has aired footage of masked young men appearing to clash with security forces.
The United Nations called for restraint on Tuesday and voiced alarm at reports dozens may have been killed in the violence.
Amnesty International said more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed across Iran since security forces were ordered to “crush” the protests.
“At least 106 protesters in 21 cities have been killed, according to credible reports,” the London-based rights group said, adding that “the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed”.
President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday Iranians have defeated the “enemy’s conspiracy” and were celebrating their victory.
“Our people have been victorious against... the enemy’s conspiracy,” Rouhani said in remarks at a meeting of his cabinet aired on state television.
“Those anarchists who came out onto the streets were few in number,” he said.
“They were organised, armed anarchists” who took to the streets “based on a plot that the region’s reactionary, the Zionists and Americans had hatched,” he said, referring to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.
“You’ve seen in recent days huge spontaneous gatherings were held in various cities,” including Zanjan, Shahr-e Kord and Zanjan among others, Rouhani said.
“This is the biggest display of the power of the nation of Iran.
“That is to say that the nation of Iran has shown the world its vigilance, awareness, unity and solidarity with the entire system” of the Islamic republic, he added.
The protests began with motorists blocking major roads in the capital Tehran and elsewhere.
They spread rapidly to at least 40 cities and towns, with petrol pumps torched, police stations attacked and shops looted.
Officials have confirmed five deaths, including three security personnel stabbed by “rioters”.
Iran’s economy has been battered since May last year when the United States unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear agreement and re-imposed crippling sanctions.