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Iranian general admits more than 300 dead in unrest


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – An Iranian general on Monday acknowledged that more than 300 people have been killed in unrest surrounding nationwide protests, giving his first official word on the trade. died in two months.

That estimate is significantly lower than the number reported by Human Rights Activists in Iran, a US-based group that has closely watched the protests since they erupted after the death. of a young woman detained by the country’s ethics police on September 16.

The activist group said 451 protesters and 60 security forces have been killed since the start of the unrest and more than 18,000 people have been detained.

Protests erupted after the death of a 22-year-old man Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. They quickly escalated into calls to overthrow Iran’s theocracy and pose one of the most serious challenges facing the ruling clerics since the 1979 revolution that brought them to power. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, was quoted by a website close to the Revolutionary Guards as saying more than 300 people had been killed, including including “martyrs”, an obvious reference to security forces. He also suggested that many of those killed were ordinary Iranians who did not participate in the protests.

He did not provide an exact number or say where his estimate came from.

Authorities have greatly restricted media coverage of the protests. The state-linked media did not report the total damage and mainly focused on attacks on security forces, which officials blamed on shady militant and separatist groups .

Hajizadeh reiterated the official statement that the protests were incited by Iran’s enemies, including Western countries and Saudi Arabia, without providing evidence. Protesters say they are fed up after decades of social and political repression, and deny having any foreign agenda.

Protests have spread across the country and drawn support from artists, athletes and other public figures. The unrest even cast a shadow over the World Cup, with some Iranians actively opposing their national team because they thought it had something to do with the government.

The granddaughter of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently called on people to pressure their government to sever ties with Tehran over its violent crackdown on protests.

In a video posted online by her brother in France, Farideh Moradkhani urged “people of conscience in the world” to support the protesters in Iran. The video was shared online this week after Moradkhani was arrested on November 23, according to the activist group.

Moradkhani is a longtime activist whose late father was an opposition figure married to Khamenei’s sister and is the closest member of the arrested supreme leader’s family. The branch of the family has opposed Khamenei for decades, and Moradkhani has been imprisoned on previous occasions for his activism.

“I ask the people of conscience in the world to take our side and ask their governments not to respond with clichés and slogans but with real action and stop all dealings with the regime. hey,” she said in her video statement.

The protests, now in their third month, have continued despite a brutal crackdown by Iranian security forces with live bullets, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Iran refuses to cooperate with the truth-finding mission that the United Nations Human Rights Council recently voted to create.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not engage in any cooperation with the political committee,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday.

In another development, Iran released a 76-year-old Iranian-Austrian citizen for health reasons, the Austrian Press Agency reported.

APA quoted the Austrian Foreign Ministry as confirming Massud Mossaheb was on indefinite leave for health reasons. The ministry said “active diplomatic efforts” led to his release, which was first reported by the Austrian daily Die Presse. There was no immediate comment from Iran.

Mossaheb was arrested on suspicion of espionage in early 2019 during a visit to the capital Tehran and later sentenced to 10 years in prison. He must stay in Iran and report to the authorities every two weeks, APA reported.

Iran has detained a number of dual nationals in recent years on charges of threatening national security. Analysts and human rights groups accuse hardliners in Iran’s security services of using foreign detainees as bargaining chips in negotiations or prisoner swaps with the West , which Tehran denies.

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