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Iran's most powerful security force threatened Monday to crush any further opposition protests over the disputed presidential election, warning demonstrators to prepare for a "revolutionary confrontation" if they take to the streets again. It was the sternest warning yet from the elite Revolutionary Guard.
The country's highest electoral authority, the Guardian Council, acknowledged voting irregularities in 50 electoral districts in the June 12 vote, the most serious official admission so far of problems in the election that the opposition has labeled a fraud. But the council insisted the problems do not affect the outcome of the vote. The electoral council said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won by a landslide.
The Revolutionary Guard, in a statement posted on its Web site, warned protesters to "be prepared for a resolution and revolutionary confrontation with the Guards, Basij and other security forces and disciplinary forces" if they continue their near-daily rallies.
The Basij, a plainclothes militia under the command of the Revolutionary Guard, have been used to quell streets protests that erupted after the election result was announced. At least 17 protesters have been killed, according to an official Iranian toll.
The Guard statement ordered demonstrators to "end the sabotage and rioting activities" and said their resistance is a "conspiracy" against Iran.
Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi vowed Sunday night to keep up the protests, charging the election was a fraud. The 67-year-old Mousavi, who heads a youth-driven movement for reform, claims he was the true winner of the election.
His statement was in defiance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power in Iran. In a sermon to tens of thousands on Friday, Khamenei said demonstrators must stop their street protests or face the consequences and he firmly backed Ahmadinejad's victory.
"The country belongs to you," Mousavi's latest statement said. "Protesting lies and fraud is your right."
This program aired on June 22, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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