The U.S, House of Representatives has nearly unanimously adopted a resolution expressing support for antigovernment protesters in Iran and condemning Tehran's crackdown on the two-week-long demonstrations.
Lawmakers backed the measure by a vote of 415 to 2 late on January 9.
The House "stands with the people of Iran that are engaged in legitimate and peaceful protests against an oppressive, corrupt regime," and condemns the government's "serious human rights abuses against the Iranian people," the resolution states.
The House resolution also called on U.S. President Donald Trump's administration to issue new sanctions punishing human rights violators in Iran.
"In standing with the Iranian people, we must explain that they are not the target of our sanctions," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said.
"U.S. sanctions target the oppressive, destabilizing regime, not the people of Iran," he added.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence thanked members of Congress, for what he called "bipartisan" cooperation on the issue.
Earlier on January 9, an Iranian lawmaker said that about 3,700 people had been arrested during the antigovernment protests, while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that Tehran foiled what he called attempts by the United States and Britain to create unrest.
The number of arrests cited by reformist lawmaker Mahmud Sadeghi is far higher than figures announced by the authorities.
Protesters in dozens of cities across Iran have vented anger about high unemployment and official corruption since December 28. Some demonstrators have called for the overthrow of Khamenei and the powerful conservative clerics who maintain Islamic rule.
In a tweet, Khamenei repeated accusations -- rejected by the United States and other governments -- that foreign countries including the United States and its allies were behind the protests.
"Once again, the nation tells the U.S., Britain, and those who seek to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran from abroad that ‘you've failed, and you will fail in the future, too'," Khamenei said in a message on his official Twitter account on January 9.
Khamenei said that some of the calls being made by the demonstrators were "honest and rightful demands." He did not elaborate.
At least 22 people have been killed as a result of the unrest and government crackdowns surrounding the protests.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran said it had documented the deaths of three arrested protesters, the Associated Press reported on January 9. One died at Tehran's Evin prison in what Iranian authorities said was a suicide.
Another man detained in Arak, 235 kilometers southwest of Tehran, also died, the center said. His family said their son's body bore an enormous head wound "as if he had been hit with an ax," the center said.
Late on January 9, Iran's judiciary acknowledged a death in Arak via its Mizan news agency, saying an unnamed detainee committed suicide.
The center alleges a third detainee died in custody in Dezful, 460 kilometers southwest of Tehran. The death in Dezful had not been reported before.
Khamenei in his remarks blamed the protests on Iran's enemies. Citing what he said were Iranian intelligence reports, he said that "there's been a triangle pattern activating these events."
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters