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Farmers in Iran’s Isfahan protest drought in dried-up river

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Hundreds of farmers rallied in Iran's central city of Isfahan to decry the drying up of its river and the impact of drought, state media reported on Friday.

Images broadcast on state television showed several hundred people gathered in the dry bed of the Zayandeh Rood river, which cuts through the city.

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"A large number of farmers have gathered here to have their voices heard by the authorities," a state television journalist said from the rally.
Farmers were demonstrating "against the drying out of the Zayandeh Rood river", another reporter said, as farmers chanted in the background.

Apart from brief periods, the river, crossed by a historic bridge that is a major tourist attraction, has been dry since 2000.

Isfahan residents have been protesting for years over the diversion of its waters to neighboring Yazd province.

Last month, the Fars news agency said protesters had damaged infrastructure east of Isfahan to prevent the water being diverted.

On Thursday, President Ebrahim Raisi met with representatives from the provinces of Isfahan, Yazd and Semnan and promised to resolve water issues.

He said that a committee and a working group would be formed with the aim of rehabilitating the river and resolving related problems, according to the presidency website.

Energy Minister Ali-Akbar Mehrabian told another group of protesting farmers on Friday that the government would "take fairness into consideration in water distribution".

With a population of around two million, Isfahan is Iran's third largest city and a magnet for tourists due to its heritage sites.

In July, deadly protests broke out in the southwestern province of Khuzestan after drought led to widespread water shortages.

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