Iran's supreme leader blames deadly protests on country's 'enemies'

A person holds a picture of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
(Image credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

In his first remarks since anti-government protests began in Iran last week, the country's supreme leader said on Tuesday "enemies" are responsible for the demonstrations, which have left at least 21 people dead.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted that these unnamed individuals are using "money, weapons, politics, and intelligence services" to "trouble the Islamic Republic," because "the enemy is always looking for an opportunity and any crevice to infiltrate and strike the Iranian nation." Protests are happening across the country, and about 450 people have been taken into custody in Tehran alone, Iranian media reports. These are the largest demonstrations to take place in Iran since 2009.

While President Hassan Rouhani has said the demonstrators should be heard, others in the government have vowed to crack down even harder. Protesters have been heard chanting about independence as well as calling for the deaths of both Rouhani and Khamenei.

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