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Pro-Government Demonstrators Rally In Iran

Thousands took to the streets in Tehran

Thousands took to the streets in Tehran

Tens of thousands of pro-government demonstrators have taken to the streets of Tehran to denounce this week's protest by reformists.

State-run Press TV said the demonstrators were rallying to denounce the "rioters" who "defiled" the Shi'ite holy day of Ashura on December 27. At least eight people were killed in clashes between opposition protesters and security forces.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today made his first public comment on the Ashura events, saying that "the reality in society is that as some dropped" their support of the regime to join the opposition, "twice that number joined [us]."

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, speaking to reporters in Tehran today, also sent a stern message to the opposition, saying, "The [opposition] thinks it can change our nation's mind about its goals and stop it from carrying out its activities and make Iran frustrated. No."

"Iran is carrying out its normal activities and all the country's affairs are improving and progressing and different sections are carrying out their normal activities," he said.

Earlier today, the UN's human rights chief said she was shocked by "the upsurge in deaths, injuries, and arrests" in Iran's crackdown on protests this week.

compiled from agency reports