‘Mercenaries’: Iran’s supreme leader condemns anti-government protests

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the paramilitary volunteers tasked with cracking down on dissent in a televised address Saturday.

He spoke to members of the Basij, the volunteer paramilitary wing of the elite Revolutionary Guard, repeating unsubstantiated claims that protesters demonstrating across the country were “tools” of the US.

” [The] The Basij should not forget that the main clash is with global hegemony,” Khamenei said, referring to America. The appeal echoed previous statements that criticized the protests as a foreign plot to destabilize Iran.

The Basij took a leading role in quelling the demonstrations that began on September 17 and were sparked by the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, who was detained by Iranian vice police.

Her death sparked months of protests against the country’s mandatory hijab, but quickly turned into one of the biggest challenges to Iranian theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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