Day 3: Iranian people not backing down; U.S. repeats warning

by WorldTribune Staff, January 13, 2020

As nationwide anti-government protests in Iran continued for a third consecutive day on Monday, the United States warned the Iranian regime that it would not “tolerate” violence against the demonstrators.

Iranian authorities denied police had opened fire on the demonstrators despite several videos posted to social media appearing to show security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters.

Anti-government protesters at Amir Kabir University were heard chanting that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ‘must step down.’ / YouTube

“We want the regime to know that the United States is watching, that the world is watching, and that we are going to shine a very, very big light on any abuse by the regime to their own people,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

“We are not going to tolerate killing innocent protesters. President Trump was very clear about that over the weekend,” Ortagus told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Monday.

Related: Trump’s warning was most-liked Persian tweet ever: ‘DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS’, January 12, 2019

Anti-government rallies were held at Teheran’s Sharif University of Technology and Amir Kabir University, with demonstrators chanting slogans such as “Clerics get lost,” according to social media posts.

Videos posted online also purported to show a student protest at the Isfahan University of Technology.

“The Iranian people have been lied to by their own government for at least three or four days before they finally admitted, before they were caught red-handed and had to admit that they were actually responsible for the downing of the Ukrainian airliner,” Ortagus said.

On Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump warned that Iranian authorities should not target anti-government protesters.

“Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching,” Trump tweeted.

Iran’s military has admitted that its air-defense forces shot down a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 airliner on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people on board, although it said the downing of the plane was accidental.

Videos posted online purported to show police and security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrators near Teheran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square on Monday night, the Associated Press reported.

Reuters said videos showed blood on the ground and images of people who appeared to be security personnel in the vicinity of protests carrying rifles.

Other posts showed police in riot gear hitting protesters with batons on the street, Reuters said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is “outraged” by a Jan. 12 rocket attack on an Iraqi air base.

“Outraged by reports of another rocket attack on an Iraqi airbase. I pray for [the] speedy recovery of the injured and call on the government of #Iraq to hold those responsible for this attack on the Iraqi people accountable,” Pompeo tweeted. “These continued violations of Iraq’s sovereignty by groups not loyal to the Iraqi government must end.”

At least seven mortar shells struck an Iraqi air base north of Baghdad, wounding four Iraqi soldiers.

Some of the shells hit the runway of the Balad air base, where some U.S. military personnel are based.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

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