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LIVE BLOG: Death Toll Still Rising in Ongoing Iran Protests

FILE - In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, university students attend a protest inside Tehran University while anti-riot Iranian police prevent them to join other protestors, in Tehran, Dec. 30, 2017.
FILE - In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, university students attend a protest inside Tehran University while anti-riot Iranian police prevent them to join other protestors, in Tehran, Dec. 30, 2017.

1/2/18 6:15 p.m. -- US: Iran should restore social media sites restricted due to protests

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Tuesday urged Iranian security forces to exercise restraint in dealing with protests that have swept the country and called on Tehran to restore access to any social media sites that have been restricted.

"When a nation clamps down on social media or websites or Google or news sites, we ask the question: What are you afraid of? ... We support the Iranian people and we support their voices being heard," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing.

Restoring social media "would certainly be an important thing for them to do," Nauert said.

1/2/18 5:45 p.m. -- Former CIA director John Brennan tell's VOA that Trump is squandering opportunity in Iran:

1/2/18 4:00 p.m. -- White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks about the widespread protests in several Iranian cities:

"Unfortunately, millions of people around the world are not so fortunate. In recent days, we have watched widespread protest erupt in many Iranian cities. Years of mismanagement, corruption and foreign adventurism has eroded the Iranian's people's trust in their leaders. The Iranian regime spends its people's wealth on militancy and terror abroad rather than ensuring prosperity at home. Prices for everyday staples and fuel are rising, while the Revolutionary Guard spends the nation's wealth on foreign militant groups and enrich themselves in the process. The Iranian people are angry at the rising tide of corruption in their daily lives. The people are tired of paying the price for their violent and corrupt rulers. As a result, we are now seeing an organic popular uprising organized by brave Iranian citizens on a large scale since 2009. But the international community cannot sit silent as it did then. The United States supports the Iranian people and we call on the regime to respect its citizens' basic right to peacefully express their desire for change. America longs for the day when Iranians will take their rightful place alongside the free people of the world. As the president said in October, we stand in total solidarity with the Iranian regime's longest suffering victims, its own people. The citizens of Iran have paid a heavy price for the violence and extremism of their leaders. And the Iranian people long to reclaim their country's proud history, its culture, its civilization and its cooperation with its neighbors."

White House Spokeswoman: Endgame is for Iranians to have 'basic human rights'
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1/2/18 2:00 p.m. -- U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley tells VOA reporter Margaret Besheer that in spite of the protests, there are no unilateral actions being considered by the Trump administration against Iran.​

WATCH: Haley on Iran protests

Haley Refutes Iranian Government Accusation That 'Enemies' Are Stoking Protests
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1/2/18 1:52 p.m. -- U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley says the U.S. wants to help amplify the voices of the Iranian people, who have been protesting around the country for days. "The international community has a role to play about what's happening in Iran," Haley said Tuesday, adding that the U.S. will call for an emergency session at the U.N.

1/2/18 12:54 p.m. -- The Trump administration is calling on Iran to stop blocking social media sites, like Instagram and Telegram, calling them "legitimate avenues for communication" as protests continue in the country. Undersecretary of State Goldstein Steve Goldstein says the U.S. is encouraging Iranians to use virtual private networks, known as VPNs, to circumvent any online censorship.

1/2/18 12:26 p.m. -- U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has issued a statement on the Iran protests. "The Secretary-General is carefully following the reports of protests in a number of cities in Iran. We regret the reported loss of life and hope further violence will be avoided. We expect that the rights to peaceful assembly and expression of the Iranian people will be respected," his spokesman said.

1/2/18 11:59 a.m. -- France has expressed concern over the "number of victims and arrests" in the protests in Iran. The foreign ministry said "the right to protest freely is a fundamental right."

1/2/18 10:30 a.m. -- VOA's Persian service has posted new video of protests that erupted Monday in the city of Shiraz. Footage, verified by VOA Persian, shows protesters and riot police clashing.

1/2/18 9:51 a.m. -- Iran's foreign ministry, responding to a tweet by President Donald Trump, said "Instead of wasting his time sending useless and insulting tweets regarding other countries, he would be better off seeing to the domestic issues of his own country, such as daily killings of dozens of people... and the existence of millions of homeless and hungry people."

1/2/18 7:10 a.m. -- President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that "the people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime," adding that the "US is watching" the developments.

1/2/18 6:02 a.m. -- Iran's Supreme Leader breaks his silence on the days of violent protests racking his country, accusing enemies of the Islamic Republic of using all their means: money, weapons, policies and security services, to stir the unrest that began late last week.​

1/2/18 4:55 a.m. -- Turkey's Foreign Ministry says it is concerned about the reported casualties in Iran and that it hopes foreign interventions will be avoided.

1/2/18 2:26 a.m. -- Nine people were killed overnight, state television reported, raising the overall death toll to more than 20 since the protests began last week.

1/1/18 8:45 p.m. -- A man "creating a disturbance" shot at police Monday with a hunting rifle, killing one officer and wounding three others, according to state media. The shooting happened in Najafabad.

-- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called out U.S. President Donald Trump after a series of tweets in support of the protests.

-- Russia weighed in, saying the demonstrations are an "internal affair" for Iran and external interference is unacceptable.

-- Media cited Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, as blaming the violence on social media. "Hashtags and messages about the situation in Iran come from the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia," he said. "What is happening on social networks concerning the situation in the country is a proxy war against the Iranian people."

-- Rouhani has acknowledged that Iranians have the right to protest legally, but urged national unity Monday as "the first and most important step at this stage."

-- A significant internet outage was reported across Iran on Monday afternoon, but some users said later it was working again.

1/1/18 5:53 p.m. -- Andrew Peek, U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran, tells VOA that there could be sanctions against those who are responsible for attacks against the protesters: "We're considering a variety of options to hold those people accountable, including sanctions."​

1/1/18 4:15 p.m. -- Andrew Peek, U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran tells VOA: "Well, these protests are indicative of what the United States government has said all along. The biggest victim of the Iranian government are the Iranian people. We are watching the events extremely closely. We continue to support the Iranian people, the president has been very clear about that. We call on the Iranian government to respect the right of their people to protest peacefully, to respect the right of free-flow information and not to use violence against peaceful protesters. These are basic human rights we think they should uphold."

1/1/18 3:15 p.m. -- Security forces in Iran on motorcycles attacking people on Workers Street in Tehran.

1/1/18 3:00 p.m. -- Video sent by unknown person to VOA Persian appears to show protesters using fire extinguishers.

1/1/18 2:01 p.m. -- Video sent by unknown person to VOA Persian appears to show Tehran's Revolution Square, where protesters appealed to security forces for help. "Police force, support [us]!"

1/1/18 1:53 p.m. -- VOA Persian links to video reportedly showing security forces firing weapons during a protest in Takestan, a city near Tehran.

1/1/18 1:22 p.m. -- Iranian Policeman Reported Killed, 3 Hurt

Jan 1. (Reuters) -- One police officer has been shot dead during protests in Iran and three have been wounded, a police spokesman said on Monday, the first reported security force fatality since anti-government demonstrations began last week.

"A rioter took advantage of the situation in the city of Najaf Abad and fired shots at police forces with a hunting rifle. As a result, three were wounded, and one was martyred," Saeed Montazer al-Mahdi was quoted as saying by Iranian state
television. It did not say when the incident took place.

1/1/18 1:19 p.m. --

1/1/18 1:10 p.m. -- VOA Persian Service: Gathering in #Tehran, Revolution Square, as mass protests in #Iran entered its fifth day. Some protesters chanting "death to dictator."

1/1/18 12:06 p.m. -- Supporters of Iranian protesters gather outside Iran's embassy in London.

1/1/18 11:14 a.m. --

1/1/18 11:06 a.m. --

1/1/18 10:55 a.m. --

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1/1/18 9:54 a.m. -- What we know so far:

-- Iran is experiencing its largest anti-government protests since the country’s disputed presidential election in 2009

-- Iran State TV reports at least 12 people have been killed during demonstrations in cities across the country since Thursday

-- Videos and photos posted on social media have shown groups of largely peaceful protesters criticizing the government and demanding freedom. Some videos have shown protesters clashing with police and vandalizing property

-- Iranian authorities have warned protesters against violence, but President Rouhani has also said people have the right to protest and criticize the government

-- Iranian authorities have blocked popular social-media websites.

-- President Donald Trump has criticized authorities for the social media controls, and on Monday tweeted support for the protesters, saying they want food and freedom.

-- The protests initially appeared to be a reaction to high food prices and unemployment. But they quickly evolved into expressions of anger against Iran's clerical leadership, including President Rouhani, who won re-election in May with promises to revive the economy.

1/1/18 8:58 a.m. -- Video sent to VOA Persian: Reportedly of Sunday midnight protests in Rasht, the capital city of northern Gilan province.

1/1/18 8:50 a.m. -- RFE/RL: A wide range of amateur video clips posted on social media from the evening of December 31 showed anti-government protests growing across Iran. RFE/RL cannot independently confirm the authenticity of each video clip.

1/1/18 8:34 a.m. -- Iran's president and judiciary chief issued fresh comments Monday about the ongoing protests.

The semi-official Fars News Agency reports that President Hassan Rouhani told a meeting with parliamentary committee heads that, "We believe what has been happening over the past several days may seem to be a threat, but it can be turned into an opportunity to see what the problem is."

State TV broadcast comments from Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, the country's judiciary chief, who said, "Those who carry out acts of sabotage, riot and unrest, and set fire to public and private venues and properties, should be dealt with strongly."

1/1/18 7:44 a.m. --

1/1/18 7:26 a.m. -- Iran State TV reports 12 killed in protests

Jan 1. (AP) -- At least 12 people have been killed in the ongoing protests in Iran, and armed protesters have tried to take over police stations and military bases, state TV reported Monday.

The protests began Thursday in Mashhad over economic issues and have since expanded to several cities, with some protesters chanting against the government and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Hundreds of people have been arrested.

The state TV report said 10 were killed during clashes Sunday night, without elaborating. Two demonstrators were killed during a protest in western Iran late Saturday.

"Some armed protesters tried to take over some police stations and military bases but faced serious resistance from security forces," state TV reported. It did not say where those attacks occurred.

1/1/18 6:50 a.m. -- AFP: Rouhani Says Citizens will 'Deal With This Minority'

President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that the Iranian people would "respond to rioters and lawbreakers" protesting around the country in recent days.

"Our nation will deal with this minority who chant slogans against the law and people's wishes, and insult the sanctities and values of the revolution," he said in a statement on his official website.

"Criticism and protest are an opportunity not a threat. The nation will themselves respond to the rioters and lawbreakers."

1/1/18 6:36 a.m. -- Protests in Izeh, Khuzestan Province

Protests in Izeh, Khuzestan Province
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1/1/18 6 :11 a.m.

1/1/18 5:40 a.m. -- State TV says 10 killed "in several cities":

Jan. 1 (Reuters) - Ten people were killed during the street protests in Iran on Sunday, state television said on Monday without giving details.

"In the events of last night, unfortunately a total of about 10 people were killed in several cities," it said, while showing footage of damage from anti-government demonstrations.

1/1/18 4:51a.m. -- AP reports that Iranian state TV says 10 people have been killed amid nationwide protests, without elaborating.

1/1/18 3:22 a.m. -- ​(Reuters) Two people were killed in Iran's protests in a southwestern town, ILNA news agency on Monday quoted a local parliament member as saying.

That brought to at least four the number of fatalities in the most serious unrest in the country since 2009.

1/1/18 3:00 a.m. -- AP: Israeli minister wishes Iranian protesters 'success'

JERUSALEM (AP) — A senior Israeli minister has wished Iranian protesters "success" but insists his country is not involved in the mass demonstrations that erupted in recent days.

In a radio interview on Monday, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said Israel is "not getting involved, but I certainly wish the Iranian people success in the struggle for freedom and democracy."

Israel has long viewed Iran as its greatest security threat because of Tehran's nuclear program, its support for regional militants and Iranian leaders' frequent calls for Israel to be eliminated. Iran has long accused Israel, the United States and Britain of meddling in its internal affairs and working to overthrow its government.

1/1/18 1:43 a.m. -- AFP, quoting local media, reports that new protests were held in Iran overnight:

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a small protest in Tehran's Enghelab Square on Sunday evening, according to unverified social media videos.

Protesters in the small northwestern town of Takestan torched a school for clergy and government buildings, the ILNA news agency said, while the state broadcaster said two people had died in Dorud after crashing a stolen fire engine.

There were also reports of protests in the cities of Izeh (southwest), Kermanshah and Khorramabad (west), Shahinshahr (northwest) and Zanjan (north).

Dec. 31, 2017 Live Blog