Iranian supreme leader calls recent protests a US-backed 'conspiracy'

Iranian supreme leader calls recent protests a US-backed 'conspiracy'
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Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday labeled the recent uprising throughout the country in protest of government-set gasoline prices a “conspiracy” backed by the United States.

The Associated Press reports Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the unsubstantiated claim Wednesday as he spoke to members of the Revolutionary Guard’s all-volunteer Basij force, which helped quell the protests.

Khamenei reportedly said the Iranian people extinguished “a very dangerous deep conspiracy that cost so much money and effort.”

He also praised the police, the Guard and the Basij for “entering the field and carrying out their task in a very difficult confrontation.”

Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state in Iran, said America sees the gas price increases as an “opportunity” to bring their “troops” to the field but the “move was destroyed by people.”

The demonstrations, the third in as many years, have reportedly resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of imprisonments as Iranians push back on government control of the struggling economy.

The Iranian government has not released any statistics regarding injuries, arrests or deaths caused by the protests.

Amnesty International says it believes the violence killed at least 143 people in the country, something Iran has disputed without providing evidence to the contrary, according to the AP.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said the State Department has received roughly 20,000 communications from Iranian protesters who have shared videos, photos and messages showing the “regime’s abuses” against demonstrations.

The communications were sent through the secure messaging platform Telegram and came in a response to a previous request by Pompeo to document human rights abuses against protesters. Pompeo added that he expects to receive thousands more messages.

Iran shut down the internet throughout the country following the start of the uprising, further angering the citizens and effectively shutting down outside communications.
Internet connectivity in the country has picked back up since the blackout went into effect last week.

The gasoline price surge came as Iran’s population has already seen their financial security take a hit due to job scarcity caused, in part, by U.S. sanctions. President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE imposed them in the aftermath of withdrawing the U.S. from the nuclear deal with Iran.