The recent anti-government protests in Iran resembled a “full-fledged world war” against Iran involving a “satanic coalition” of foreign powers, said a senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported late Thursday.
The recent protests in Iran, which “suddenly spread across the entire country,” were a “full-fledged world war” against the Islamic Republic, said Salar Abnoush, the operations commander of the Basij. The Basij force is a paramilitary arm of the IRGC.
“Only god saved us,” said Abnoush, adding that the Islamic Republic’s opponents were “awaiting a spark to destroy the country.”
Abnoush blamed a “satanic coalition” including the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel for driving the protests, adding: “We have obtained a lot of information through interrogations.” He did not elaborate on how this “coalition” apparently led the protests.
The organization and coordination among protesters was “unprecedented” and “special,” he said, adding: “Their bags contained equipment that we had never seen before.”
Iran has not said how many people have been killed, injured or arrested in the unrest. A report by Radio Farda put the death toll at at least 138. Several activists have put the number as high as 200, while the government has yet to announce an official figure.
A near-total internet shutdown has made obtaining information on bloodshed difficult.
Defending the government's decision to shut down the internet, Abnoush said that the decision should have been made even sooner. “Disconnecting the Internet helped disorganize complex groups,” he claimed.
The government blocked the internet in Iran last Saturday, one day after the start of the protests. On Thursday, it reportedly began reconnecting internet access in several provinces, as senior Iranian officials claimed victory over the protests and praised Iranian security forces for their “timely” crackdown.