Iran’s supreme leader breaks silence on protests, blames U.S.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded publicly on Monday to the biggest protests in Iran in years, breaking weeks of silence to condemn what he called “rioting” and accuse the U.S. and Israel of planning the protests.

Khamenei said he was “heartbroken” by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police, which set off the nationwide protests. However, he sharply condemned the protests as a foreign plot to destabilize Iran, echoing authorities’ previous comments.

“This rioting was planned,” he told a cadre of police students in Tehran. “These riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees.”

He described scenes of protestors ripping off their state-mandated headscarves and setting fire to mosques, banks and police cars as “not normal” and “unnatural.”

His comments come as nationwide

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