(photo credit: AP)
After yet another day of bloody protests in Teheran in which police reportedly attacking hundreds of demonstrators with tear gas and fired in the air to disperse the rallies, the country's regime found support for their actions in their regional ally, Syria.
"Gambling on the fall of the Iranian regime is a sure loss," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said on Monday.
"The Iranian people realized their right to vote at the ballot box," he continued. "They must not express their desire to save lives in Iran by inciting demonstrations."
Moallem also hit back at world criticism against Iran, saying that the "international community must come to terms with the reality" of the Islamic revolution.
Earlier on Monday, helicopters reportedly hovered overhead as about 200 protesters gathered at Haft-e-Tir Square in the Iranian capital. Hundreds of anti-riot police quickly put an end to the demonstration.
Witnesses said police at the scene tried to prevent any gathering, even among small groups. At the subway station at Haft-e-Tir, police did not allow anyone to stand still, asking them to keep walking and separating people who were walking together.
Just before the clashes, an Iranian woman who lives in Teheran said there was a heavy police and security presence in another square in central Teheran. She asked not to be identified because she was worried about government reprisals.
"There is a massive, massive, massive police presence," she told the Associated Press in Cairo by telephone. "Their presence was really intimidating."
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Following the outbreak of violence, Britain began to evacuate the families of staff based in the country, the UK Foreign Office announced on Monday.
According to the ministry, family members of diplomats and other officials had been unable to continue their lives as normal because of the rioting.
However, a spokesman said that the staff based in Iran were not being withdrawn.
The ministry said Monday it was not advising other British nationals to leave, but confirmed that it was monitoring the situation with "the utmost vigilance."
The renewed clashes came as Iran's Revolutionary Guard threatened to crush any further opposition protests over the disputed presidential election and warned demonstrators to prepare for a "revolutionary confrontation" if they take to the streets again.
The country's most powerful military force ordered demonstrators to "end the sabotage and rioting activities" and said their resistance was a "conspiracy" against Iran.
A statement posted on the Guard's Web site warned protesters to "be prepared for a resolution and revolutionary confrontation with the Guards, Basij and other security forces and disciplinary forces."
The announcement came after opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi vowed Sunday night to keep up the protests, charging that the June 12 presidential election was a fraud.
Iran's Guardian Council admitted to irregularities in the election, implying that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpassed the number of eligible voters.
Council spokesperson Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in an attempt to play down accusations of election fraud launched by failed presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei.
"Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate - the incident happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei was quoted on the Iranian state-funded Website Press TV.
At the same time, Press TV quoted the spokesman on another Web site, Khabaronline, where Kadkhodaei said that it could not yet be determined whether the "possible change in the tally" of the affected ballots would indeed change the vote's results.
Meanwhile, Al Arabiya reported that Iranian religious leaders were considering an alternative to Iran's ayatollah structure.
As well as coming in the wake of the bloody protests - in which at least 17 people have been killed - the report also follows the arrest and ensuing release of family members of former president Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
According to the Al Arabiya report, Iranian religious clerks in Qom, as well as members of the Assembly of Experts headed by Rafsanjani were behind the move.
Among the relatives of Rafsanjani who were detained was his daughter Faezeh, a 46-year-old reformist politician vilified by hard-liners for her open support of Mousavi.
All the detainees were released after a few hours.
Iranian police said in a Monday statement that 457 people were arrested on Saturday. It did not say how many had been arrested during the rest of the week or how many remained in custody.
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