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‘Mercenaries’: Iran’s Leader denounces anti-government protesters

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has praised paramilitary volunteers tasked with quashing dissent on Saturday in a televised address.

He was speaking to members of the Basij, the volunteer paramilitary wing of the elite Revolutionary Guard, reiterating unsupported claims that protesters demonstrating across the country are “tools” of the US.

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

The Basij has taken a leading role in clamping down on demonstrations that began on 17 September, ignited by the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, while in the custody of Iran’s morality police.

Her death sparked months of protests over the country’s mandatory headscarf but quickly morphed into one of the greatest challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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