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Revolutionary Guards Appoint New Tehran Commander

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards force has replaced its commander for the greater Tehran area, its website said.

The "Sepah News" website did not give a reason for the appointment of Hossein Hamedani as new Revolutionary Guards commander in Tehran, replacing Abdullah Araghi.

The Revolutionary Guards, whose influence appears to have grown since President Mahmud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, helped quell huge opposition protests that erupted in Tehran and other cities after his disputed reelection in June.

The force is seen as fiercely loyal to the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah.

"Sepah News" said Hamedani had previously held several senior positions, most recently as deputy commander of the Islamic Basij militia. He was appointed to his new post by guards commander in chief Mohammad Ali Jafari.

The moderate opposition says the June poll was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad's reelection. The authorities reject the charge and have portrayed the street protests as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the Islamic republic.