The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards says protesters were shot “from close range” in the back, insinuating that some protesters killed their own comrades.
The November 24 statement by Ali Fadavi is a new twist in the government’s attempts to portray protesters as “foreign agents”, “thugs” and “bandits”.
Fadavi latest remark contradicts and earlier statement when he said confronting the protests was like the Iran-Iraq war, meaning security forces had to use lethal force.
The government has also cited large-scale destruction to banks and public buildings as proof the protests were a well-organized conspiracy, while disturbances occurred in more than 100 cities and towns. It has produced no proof of such a vast conspiracy.
"We caught all the mercenaries who openly confessed they were doing mercenary work for America and, God willing, the judicial system of the country will give them maximum punishments," Fadavi said. More than 4,000 people have been arrested.
Moreover, protesters and local eyewitnesses say some of the destruction was done by government-organized teams, systematically torching buildings to blame the protesters.
While independent media and rights groups say that up to 140 civilians were killed by security forces, the Islamic Republic has not released any official figures.
A member of Iran’s parliament, Qassem Mirzai-Nikoo has said that 130 people were killed and a large number wounded during the protests.
Several videos received from Iran, despite a seven-day Internet blackout, show security forces directly firing at protesters. One video released by Kurdistan Human Rights Network shows security forces from the rooftop of a court building repeatedly firing at protesters in the town of Javanmard.
Another video shows plainclothesmen shooting protesters at close range in Gorgan, northern Iran.