The Latest: Iran's Khamenei says 'enemies' swaying protests

AP

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In this picture released by official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting as he sits under a portrait of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. Khamenei said Tuesday that the country’s enemies have meddled in recent protest rallies. The report on the website of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei quoted him as saying “in recent days” enemies of Iran have utilized various means including money, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatuses. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The latest on protests in Iran (all times local):

14:00 p.m.

Iran's Supreme Leader is saying the country's enemies have meddled in recent protest rallies resorting to various means.

A Tuesday report on the website of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei quoted him as saying "in recent days" enemies of Iran have utilized various means including money, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatuses "to create problems for the Islamic system."

Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, did not name any country but said he would explain more in the near future.

This is the first time Khamenei has commented publicly since protests over inflation and economic corruption began Thursday in Mashhad and spread to other cities.

More than 20 people, including protesters and security forces, have reportedly died in clashes and hundreds have been arrested.

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11:15 p.m.

Syria has expressed solidarity with Iran where clashes between protesters and security forces over the past days have left several people dead and wounded.

Syria is Iran's strongest ally in the Arab world and Tehran has been a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad since the country's conflict began in 2011, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the Syrian economy.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry statement released Tuesday blasted the U.S. administration and Israel for expressing support to Iran's protesters. It blamed the U.S. and Israel for destabilizing the region.

The ministry said Iran's sovereignty should be respected and no one should interfere in Tehran's internal affairs.

"Syria is confident that Iran's leadership, government and people will be able to defeat the conspiracy," the Syrian ministry said.

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12:15 p.m.

The head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court has reportedly warned that arrested protesters could potentially face death penalty cases when they come to trial.

Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi on Tuesday as saying: "Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh," or waging war against God. That's a death penalty offense in Iran.

Ghazanfarabadi also was quoted as saying some protesters will come to trial soon on charges of acting against national security and damaging public properties. He also stressed that attending rallies not sanctioned by Iran's Interior Ministry, which oversees police, was illegal.

Iran's Revolutionary Court handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.

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11 a.m.

A semi-official news agency in Iran is reporting that 450 people have been arrested over three days in Tehran.

The ILNA news agency report on Tuesday quoted Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy governor of Tehran, offering the figure.

Nasserbakht said that 200 protesters were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and 100 were arrested Monday.

The protests began Thursday over economic issues and expanded to several cities. No nationwide arrest figures have been released by authorities since the demonstrations began.

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10 a.m.

Iranian state television is reporting that nine people have been killed overnight amid nationwide protests and unrest.

The report Tuesday puts the death toll in six days of demonstrations to at least 20 people.

State TV says six rioters were killed during an attack on a police station in the town of Qahdarijan. It reported that clashes were sparked by rioters who tried to steal guns from the police station.

State TV says an 11-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man were killed in the town of Khomeinishahr, while a member of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard was killed in the town of Najafabad. It says all were shot by hunting rifles.

The towns are all in Iran's central Isfahan province, some 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of Tehran.

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