Saturday, 21 April 2018, 01:15:17 am
Pro-govt rallies in Iran after days of protest, unrest
January 03, 2018

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Tens of thousands of Iranians took part in pro-government demonstrations in several cities across the country on Wednesday, Iranian state media reported, a move apparently seeking to calm nerves after a week of protests and unrest that have killed at least 21 people.

While the rallies showed support among Iran's 80 million people for its clerically overseen government, smaller and smaller towns in the Iranian countryside appear to be experiencing the unrest that has already swept through urban areas, according to protesters' online videos.

Official and semi-official media did not immediately offer new details of the unrest Wednesday. Demonstrators' videos corresponded with The Associated Press reporting from outside of Iran, though individual protesters themselves remain unreachable. The protests for now also appear to remain leaderless.

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The Latest: Turkey against external intervention in Iran

Turkey's foreign minister has been quoted as saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump are backing widespread protests in neighboring Iran.

Hurriyet newspaper and other media also quoted Mevlut Cavusolgu as telling a group of journalists on Wednesday that Turkey opposes foreign intervention in Iran and wants to see stability quickly restored in the country.

Cavusoglu said that "two people are supporting the protests in Iran: Netanyahu and Trump. We oppose such external interventions."

Earlier, officials said the Turkish and Iranian presidents held a telephone conversation during which Iran's Hassan Rouhani said he hoped the protests would end in a few days.

Turkish officials say Iran's President Hassan Rouhani told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he hopes the protests that have hit Iran "will end in a couple of days."

Officials in Erdogan's office say the two had a telephone conversation on Wednesday during which Erdogan stressed the importance of stability and calm.

Erdogan also reiterated that Turkey back's Rouhani's statement in which he upheld Iranians' right protests but urged them not to violate laws. Erdogan's office said Rouhani thanked Erdogan and told him that he hoped the protests would end "in a couple of days."

Turkey and Iran have grown closer as they work together to try and end the conflict in Syria. Rouhani met with Erdogan in Istanbul last month on the sidelines of an Islamic nations' summit, voicing strong opposition to the U.S. administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.