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State TV broadcasts pro-government rallies: Iran protests

Iranian state TV broadcast footage of pro-government demonstrations across the country Wednesday in a move apparently aimed at trying to restore calm following days of deadly violent protests.
Press TV broadcast the scenes live, saying the demonstrators were protesting “the violence that has taken place over the last few nights in cities.”
At least 21 people died and more than 400 were arrested in nationwide protests that began Dec. 28, Iranian media reported.
The protests started in Mashhad — Iran’s second-largest city — over the weak economy and rising food prices before spreading to other cities as Iranians expressed anger over alleged government corruption and discontent with the country’s clerical rulers.
In contrast, pro-government demonstrators waved Iranians flags and signs supporting the government Wednesday.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini blamed the anti-government protests on interference by “enemies of Iran.”
“Look at the recent days’ incidents,” Khamenei said Tuesday. “All those who are at odds with the Islamic Republic have utilized various means, including money, weapons, politics and (the) intelligence apparatus, to create problems for the Islamic system, the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution.”
President Trump has made several statements of support for the protesters.
“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. He blamed former president Barack Obama for helping to strike a deal between Iran and six world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in 2015.
“All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!” Trump said.
The Trump administration also called on Iran to stop blocking Instagram and other social media sites and encouraged Iranians to use special software to circumvent controls, such as virtual private networks, known as VPNs, said Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein.
Washington is considering new sanctions on those responsible for the crackdown on protesters.



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Soldier martyred defusing bomb in North Waziristan

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