The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has declared the defeat of the “sedition” in the country, referring to a wave of anti-government protests.
Maj Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari made the announcement as tens of thousands of people attended pro-government rallies called to counter the unrest.
It began last Thursday in the city of Mashhad and has seen 21 people killed.
The protests were initially against price rises and corruption, but turned to wider anti-government sentiment.
They have been the largest since the disputed 2009 presidential election.
Gen Jafari said: “Today, we can say that this is the end of the 96 sedition,” referring to the current year – 1396 – in the Persian calendar.
He said “security preparedness and people’s vigilance” had led to the defeat of “enemies” and that the Guards had only intervened in a “limited” way in three provinces.
He added: “There were a maximum of 1,500 people in each place and the number of troublemakers did not exceed 15,000 people nationwide.”
The general blamed anti-revolutionary agents, pro-monarchists and forces which he said had been “announced by [US-ex Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton to create riot, anarchy, insecurity and intrigue in Iran”.
The “enemies” had tried to pose “cultural, economic and security threats against Islamic Iran”, he said.
His comments echoed those by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday, which also blamed unspecified “enemies” and which analysts believed referred to the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
But the general also blamed a “former official” for the protests, in a comment analysts believe referred to ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has been critical of government officials, in particular Judiciary Chief Sadegh Amoli Larijani, in recent weeks.