Iran’s security forces may have killed more than 1,000 people in the recent protests across the country, according to Brian Hook, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran. The dead include at least a dozen children, Hook said.
He added thousands more Iranians were wounded in the anti-government demonstrations against fuel hikes, which went into effect in November. At least 7,000 others were detained.
The Trump administration will call for Congress to push for tough new sanctions in response, Hook said.
“As the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over a thousand Iranian citizens since the protests began,” Hook said in a briefing, noting that the figures are difficult to confirm.
According to Hook, the State Department received 32,000 videos of incidents across Iran. They included footage of elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps allegedly pursuing a group of protesters and opening fire. They may have killed as many as 100 people in the incident.
Amnesty International says it cannot confirm the figures from the State Department on the death toll. It estimates more than 200 people have died since violence broke out.
“But we believe it will rise significantly as we are getting new reports of fatalities from Iran every day,” International’s Iran researcher, Mansoureh Mills said.
There are also concerns Iran is sending weapons to other parts of the Middle East.
“We interdicted a significant hoard of weapons and missile parts evidently of Iranian origin,” Hook said.
“The seizure includes sophisticated weapons.”
The Pentagon is considering sending thousands of additional troops to the Middle East to respond to possible Iranian aggression in the region, Time Magazine reported.
John Rood, defense undersecretary for policy, told senators Thursday that the Defence Department “intends to make changes” to how many U.S. troops are deployed in the region.
Officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have told ABC News, as many as 7,000 more troops could be sent to the Middle East, but a final decision has not been made.
”We’ll announce whether we will or not,” Trump said Thursday.
“Certainly there might be a threat. And if there is a threat, it will be met very strongly. But we will be announcing what we may be doing — may or may not be doing.”
The protests in Iran spread to more than 100 Iranian towns and cities after the government raised gas prices by as much as 300 percent.
The marchers are demanding that clerical leaders resign. Hook called the unrest “the worst political crisis the regime has faced” since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“We’re already dealing with the U.N. … they’re very much involved with respect to Iran and other things,” U.S. President Donald Trump told VOA when asked about the international community’s response to the Iranian protests.
Trump has called on the media “go in and see what’s happening” in Iran but noted the Iranian government is making that difficult.
“They’re killing a lot of people and they’re arresting thousands of their own citizens in a brutal crackdown in recent weeks,” Trump said.
“We’re already dealing with the U.N. … they’re very much involved with respect to Iran and other things.”