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Iran’s interior minister suggests that up to 225 people died in November protests

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Iran’s Minister of Interior suggested on Saturday that up to 225 people were killed in the country during last November’s anti-government protests.

Anti-government protests erupted across Iran in November 2019 after the government announced gasoline price hikes of at least 50 percent. Over half a year later, Iran is yet to release an official overall death toll.

“About 40 or 45 people, or about 20 percent of those killed, were people who were killed with non-standard issue weapons,” Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on state TV late Saturday.

According to the government, that would mean that between 200 to 225 people were killed in during the demonstrations.

Rights groups have put the death toll from the protests at more than 300, while Reuters reported that security forces killed about 1,500 people during less than two weeks of unrest that started on November 15.

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Fazli went on to say that Iranian opposition groups, such as Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and the monarchists, were looking to start a “civil war” in Iran.

Defending the internet blackout in the country at the time, he said: “All American and opposition media, including the monarchists, the MEK and ISIS were providing military training through the internet.”

Security forces were advised to be “patient” and exercise “self-restraint,” Fazli said, adding that “there was no armed confrontation with the people” during the protests.

“But when they attack police stations, they must be confronted,” he said.

While Fazli suggested that security forces only opened fire on protesters to defend police stations, numerous reports and videos from Iran showed security forces shooting at unarmed protesters from rooftops and in the streets.

Fazli also criticized the US for imposing sanctions on him for his role in suppressing the demonstrations.

The US imposed sanctions on Fazli on May 20, accusing him of having a role in serious human rights abuse, including giving orders that led to violence against peaceful protesters.