Iran Revolutionary Guard threaten protest crackdown
Iran's hardline Revolutionary Guards on Monday threatened to crack down on street protests after opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi called on supporters to stage more demonstrations over the disputed June 12 election, Reuters reported.
"In the current sensitive situation ... the Guards will firmly confront in a revolutionary way rioters and those who violate the law," said a statement published on the Guards' website.
The statement by the Guards, who are viewed as the most loyal guardian of the ruling clerical establishment, clearly signalled a crackdown on any fresh unrest over the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mousavi, who was officially beaten into second place by Ahmadinejad in an election which he says was rigged, called late on Sunday for fresh protests by his supporters.
"Protesting against lies and fraud (in the election) is your right," Mousavi said in a statement on his website.
At the same time, Mousavi made a veiled appeal to the security forces to show restraint in handling demonstrations -- a move likely to be viewed with deep suspicion by a conservative leadership that has vowed to use force wherever necessary to quell opposition.
Ramming the point home, the Revolutionary Guards said they would not hesitate to confront "illegal" protests organised by defeated presidential candidates, and warned the West to stop backing "rioters".
Iranian authorities have accused Western powers of supporting the widespread street protests, and have not ruled out expulsions of some European ambassadors.
Iranian state television said 10 people were killed and more than 100 others wounded in demonstrations held in Tehran on Saturday in defiance of a warning from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.