Anti-regime protesters torched around 731 banks in nationwide unrest that began two weeks ago, Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei admitted. The demonstrations against the Shi’a Islamic regime started on November 15 after Tehran announced the rationing of gasoline and a sharp hike in fuel prices. Protesters also turned their anger at symbols of the regime, setting fire to banners and billboards depicting Ayatollah Khamenei and Islamic propaganda.

As many as 200 demonstrators have been killed so far and more than 4,000 arrested, dissident Iranian groups said. Besides police, the regime deployed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Shi’a Basij militia against unarmed protesters. Forces loyal to the regime were using live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, several video footage show.

“Verified video footage show snipers shooting at people from rooftops,” German newspaper Bild confirmed. “In at least one instance, a helicopter had been used for the shooting.”

“A video showing the protests at Shiraz University show IRGC gunmen opening fire at demonstrators with machine guns. Elsewhere, other videos show Basij militia’s snipers shooting the protestors from government building rooftops,” Prague-based Radio Free Europe reported.

The flames of protests have swept across to the neighboring Iraq as well, with protesters burning down Iranian consulate in southern Iraqi city of Najaf. Many Iraqis accuse Tehran of interfering in the country’s internal affairs and propping up a pro-Iranian Shiite-led government in Baghdad. This is the second attack of its kind in Iraq, earlier this month protesters tried to enter the Iranian consulate in Karbala city. No Iranian diplomat was harmed during these incidents.

Reuters reported the extent of the Iranian protests citing regime and independent sources:

Iran’s top leader on Wednesday denounced an outbreak of deadly unrest as a “very dangerous conspiracy” as authorities reported about 731 banks and 140 government sites had been torched in the disturbances. (…)

The disturbances began on Nov. 15 after the announcement of gasoline price hikes, but quickly turned political, with protesters demanding top leaders step down. (…)

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli meanwhile said about 731 banks and 140 government sites were torched in the unrest.

More than 50 bases used by security forces were attacked and approximately 70 gas stations were also burned, he said, in remarks published by the official IRNA news agency, without specifying where the attacks took place. (…)

According to IRNA, Rahmani Fazli also said up to 200,000 people took part nationwide in the unrest.

London-based Amnesty International said on Monday it had recorded at least 143 protesters killed in the protests. (…)

The protests took place as new U.S. sanctions imposed this year cut off nearly all of Iran’s oil exports, and as similar protest movements erupted in Iraq and Lebanon against governments that include heavily armed pro-Iran factions.

There are signs that Tehran might be losing hold over the population, and finding it difficult to find loyal recruits to bolster the ranks of its armed forces. The regime has heavily depended on IRGC, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, to crush the uprising.

IRGC, one of the prime targets of the recent sanctions imposed by Washington, has stretched its manpower and assets by wading into conflicts in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The IRGC leadership is urging its women militia members to have higher birth rates and raise the next generation of jihadi recruits. An IRGC commander on Saturday told the women members of its Basij paramilitary force to have “at least five children.”

“The women’s Basij should be pioneers in this matter,” IRGC commander Ali Fadavi said. “We should have at least five children in the families of the IRGC and Basij members.” The Tehran regime needs “jihad makers, guards and defenders to maintain its existence, identity and investments,” he added.

The popular uprising against the regime can be credited to President Donald Trump’s policy of ‘maximum pressure’ on Tehran. While Germany and France have been busy appeasing the regime, in hope of keeping Tehran with in the 2015 nuclear agreement and thereby holding on to their lucrative oil and trade arrangements. President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Obama-era deal, forceing European and Asian countries to cut their commercial relations with Tehran or face secondary sanctions.

Germany and France are yet to come to terms with the new reality, seeking ways to facilitate bilateral oil and gas trade in defiance of the U.S. sanctions. Former Secretary of State John Kerry admitted meeting Iranian officials several times in a bid to keep the nuclear deal alive. Many in the European political establishment and within the Iranian Mullah regime hope to ‘sit out’ Presient Trump, looking forward to a favorable Democrat-led administration by 2020.

Raw footage: Iranian protesters set fire to the Central Bank of Iran in the city of Behbahan

[Cover image via YouTube]

 
 
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