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Leaders of the Iranian anti-government protests have already been identified and will face severe punishment, Deputy Head of Iran’s Judiciary System Hamid Shahriari said.

“I assuredly announce that all the instigators of recent riots have been identified and arrested and they are awaiting their trials.

“Harsh punishment is expected to be meted out to the instigators of recent riots in some cities of Iran,” Shahriari said, as quoted by the Mehr news agency.

He also said that the protesters were trying to find a media channel in order to disseminate propaganda against the country’s establishment.

Several major cities in Iran, including Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Rasht, have been engulfed in anti-government protests since Dec. 28 2017.

The people have taken to the streets to protest against unemployment, poverty, and the rising cost of living.

At least 20 people have reportedly been killed and 450 have been detained.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Fazli said that about 42,000 Iranians had participated in the rallies.

NAN reports that on Jan. 2, a senior Iranian security official accused Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and Britain of being “major players” behind recent anti-government protests.

“Certain countries are waging a proxy war against the Islamic republic via social media and the internet,’’ Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said.

He said that the U.S, Britain and Saudi Arabia are behind the recent riots in Iran, adding that the hash tags and social media campaigns in Iran are all being guided by these countries.

“Based on our analyses, around 27 per cent of the new hash tags against Iran are generated by the Saudi government,” the Iranian official said.

Shamkhani also said this foreign-backed intervention is aimed at hampering Iran’s progress in different spheres.

“What is happening in Iran will be over in a few days, and there is no reason to worry at all,’’ he noted.

According to Iran’s security officials, scores of protesters had been arrested.

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