The United States has confirmed a news report citing unnamed Iranian officials as saying about 1,500 people were killed in a crackdown by security forces on anti-government protests last month.
In a report published Monday, London-based Reuters said it obtained the death toll from three Iranian interior ministry officials who said the fatalities included "at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police."
In a Monday tweet, the State Department quoted U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook as saying the Reuters report "underscores the urgency for the international community to punish the perpetrators and isolate the regime for the murder of 1,500 Iranian citizens."
Reuters' death toll was much higher than the latest fatalities reported by British rights group Amnesty International, which said in a Dec. 16 statement that it documented the killings of at least 304 demonstrators by Iranian security forces in days of unrest that erupted on Nov. 15.
Hook's reference to the "murder of 1,500 Iranian citizens" also marked a substantial increase in the Trump administration's assessment of the number of people killed in Iran's crackdown.
In a Dec. 5 briefing to reporters, Hook said it appeared that the Iranian government "could have murdered over a thousand Iranian citizens since the protests began."
Iranian State-approved news agency Tasnim quoted an official at the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) as saying the Reuters report referencing the deaths of 1,500 people was "fake news."
"These claims are based on premeditated psychological warfare and lack credibility," Alireza Zarifian Yeganeh said, echoing previous Iranian dismissals of Western reports about fatalities in the protests.
Source : VOA