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Iran’s supreme leader blames ‘enemies’ for unrest

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke publicly Tuesday, the first time since protests broke out last week, blaming “enemies of Iran” for the unrest. Rageh Omaar of ITV News reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A sixth day of protests against Iran's leaders roiled that country today, leaving over 20 people dead and hundreds under arrest.

    President Trump has welcomed the demonstrations, but today White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders stopped short of calling for regime change.

    Rageh Omaar of Independent Television News has more.

  • Rageh Omaar:

    There is little letup in the protests across Iranian cities.

    Their numbers may not be huge, but their significance cannot be underestimated. This crowd are chanting "Death to the dictator," a reference to supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who earlier today met with supporters in what was his first public appearance since the nationwide protests began.

    He accused what he described as Iran's enemies of fomenting the disturbances, a clear reference to the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and he said Iran's courage and faith would overcome such efforts.

    That warning didn't stop President Trump from taking to Twitter, where he said the people of Iran were finally acting against what he called a brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. He said the Iranian people have little food, big inflation and no human rights, and that the U.S. is watching.

    The protests started in the holy city of Mashhad last Thursday, quickly spreading to the capital of Tehran, and further east, to some 50 cities, across the country as far south as Chabahar and Ahvaz. So far, the government has been careful not to respond with a hard-line violent crackdown, as it did in the wake of the political riots of 2009, which saw thousands lose their lives.

    What began as demonstrations born out of economic grievances are now sounding much more like angry condemnations of the leadership of the Islamic Republic itself. The regime will be hoping that large pro-government demonstrations will drown out such sentiments.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That was Rageh Omaar of Independent Television News.

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