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Mourners take part in a funeral for victims of a mass shooting at a key shrine earlier in the week that killed more than a dozen worshippers, in Iran's southern city of Shiraz, on October 29, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Tehran: The head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards warned protesters that on Saturday would be their last day of taking to the streets, in a sign that security forces may intensify their crackdown on unrest sweeping the country.

Iran has been gripped by protests since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police last month, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.

“Do not come to the streets! Today is the last day of the riots,” Guards commander Hossein Salami said in some of the toughest language used in the crisis, which Iran’s clerical leadership blames on its foreign enemies including Israel and the United States.

“This sinister plan, is a plan hatched ... in the White House and the Zionist regime,” Salami said.

The widely feared Revolutionary Guards, who report directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have not been deployed since demonstrations began on September 16. They are an elite force with a track record of crushing dissent.

Rights groups have said at least 250 protesters have been killed and thousands arrested across Iran in the protests, which have turned into a popular revolt by furious Iranians from all layers of society.

On Friday, video footage on social media showed protesters calling for the death of Khamenei and the Basij militia, which has played a major role in efforts to defuse demonstrations.

The Intelligence Ministry and the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guards have accused spy agencies from the United States, Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia of having orchestrated the unrest to destabilise the Islamic Republic.

Salami, who was speaking at a funeral of victims killed in an attack this week claimed by Daesh (Islamic State), reiterated that message in a direct address to the protesters.

“Don’t sell your honour to America and don’t slap the security forces who are defending you in the face,” he said.

Mourners gathered chanted slogans against nationwide “riots”.

During the funeral processions in Iran, the crowd also chanted slogans condemning the United States, Israel and Britain for allegedly being “behind the riots”, according to live footage broadcast on state television.

Brandishing Shiite symbols, the crowd marched through central Shiraz following a vehicle carrying the victims’ coffins which were draped in the Iranian flag.

The crowd can be heard chanting “Death to America, to Israel, to England” and “The vigilant revolutionary people hates the rioters.”

Gunman who attacked Iran shrine dies

Meanwhile, the gunman who killed 15 people at a major Shiite holy site in southern Iran earlier this week has died, Iranian media said on Saturday.

Iranian authorities have not disclosed details about the assailant, who died in a hospital in the southern city of Shiraz from injuries sustained during his arrest, according to Iran’s semiofficial Fars and Tasnim news agencies.