WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama has condemned the Iranian government's violent crackdown on protesters, referring to the bloodshed and arrests that have taken place as an "iron fist of brutality."
At least eight people are said to have died in clashes between security forces and pro-opposition supporters throughout Iran.
Obama called on the regime to respect its citizens' rights to demonstrate and release those it has arrested. He said the United States is watching events closely.
"Along with all free nations the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights. We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people," Obama said.
"We call for the immediate release of all who have unjustly detained within Iran. We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there and I'm confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice."
The U.S. leader also praised the Iranian people for their courage and conviction and said he believes "history will be on the side of those who seek justice."
Obama made the comments from Hawaii, where he is spending the Christmas holidays with his family.