At least 12 people are dead after four days of ongoing anti-government protests in Iran, according to state media reports. The clash began after armed protesters had attempted to storm police stations and military bases.
The violence occurred despite Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's call for peace on Sunday. He also downplayed the protest's significance, as the government continues to demonstrate an inability to control the mostly spontaneous uprisings, which began on Thursday.
"Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing," Rouhani said in a meeting on Monday.
The protests began after the government failed to address systematic concerns, like the increased costs of living and a stagnant economy. Now, the protests have grown to include broader anti-regime themes.
In a failed attempt to quash more protesters from organizing, Iranian officials blocked access to Instagram and the popular messaging app Telegram.
The ongoing conflict attracted the attention of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly expressed his support for the protesters. In a Sunday tweet, he warned that the U.S. would be on the lookout for human rights violations.
Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017
And in a separate New Years tweet, the 45th commander-in-chief said it's "time for a change."
Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
His tweets surfaced just as the 60-year Congressional review of the Iran Nuclear Deal had closed in mid-December. The president, who once described the deal as "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into," said the administration is working with Congress to craft a longer-term, legislative solution.
The nationwide demonstrations are the largest to occur in the country since massive protests shook Iran in 2009 over disputed elections.