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Iran says it has ended anti-government protests and blames US, Israel and Saudi Arabia for unrest

The Independent: Iran's Revolutionary Guard said security forces have ended the unrest linked to anti-government protests which erupted last month.

In a statement on its website, the powerful paramilitary force blamed the unrest on the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, as parliament and security officials met to discuss the boldest challenge to the clerical establishment since 2009.

The Guard also claimed an exiled opposition group known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and supporters of the monarchy that was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution were behind the protests.

Price hikes sparked demonstrations last month, with the protests spreading to at least 80 cities and towns. At least 21 people were killed in scattered clashes.

The protestors, many of them young and working-class Iranians, vented anger at high unemployment and official corruption. The demonstrations were the largest seen in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential elections.

Some protesters called for the overthrow of the government. Many also protested against the Revolutionary Guard's huge budget, its costly interventions across the region, and against the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to whom the force is loyal.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began. They include around 90 university students, of whom 10 remained unaccounted for, reformist MP Mahmoud Sadeghi told the semi-official ISNA news agency.

Several parliament members and university officials have expressed concern over the fate of students arrested during the protests. Tehran University Vice-President Majid Sarsangi said the university had set up a committee to track them.

Relatives of detainees were reported to have gathered outside prisons seeking information about the fate of their loved ones.

A police spokesman said most of those arrested were "duped" into joining the unrest and had been freed on bail. He added: "But the leaders of the unrest are held by the judiciary in prison."

Residents of several cities confirmed to Reuters that protests had subsided after the government intensified a crackdown by dispatching forces to a number of provinces >>>