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TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday accused the United States of seeking to manipulate the people by supporting protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death.

The Islamic republic has been rocked by six weeks of protests that flared over Amini’s death after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country’s dress code for women.

In a joint statement last week, Iran’s intelligence ministry and its Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence services accused the United States of conspiring with its allies to “spark riots” in the country.

“The reports of intelligence agencies show that the enemy had established a plan for Tehran and the country’s large and small cities,” Khamenei said, referring to the United States.

He was speaking to a group of schoolchildren, invited to mark the anniversary of the start of the 1979 hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran.

“Their plan, their objective is to get the Iranian people to follow them, and the opinion of the Iranian people to become identical to the opinion of the British and American leaders,” Khamenei said.

Iran releases eight journalists detained amid protests

The protest movement that erupted over Amini’s death has spread to schools where, according to online videos, girls have removed their headscarves and chanted anti-government slogans.

“The presence of some teenagers and young people (on the streets) is the appearance of things,” said Khamenei.

“They are our own children and we have no quarrel with them,” said the Iranian leader.

“They participated (in the protests) because of excitement and emotions and a lack of understanding of what is going on.

“The ones who matter are the main directors of (these incidents) who act behind with a plan,” he said.

Since the protests erupted, dozens of people, mostly demonstrators but also including members of the security forces, have been killed. Hundreds more have been arrested.

“In the complex war of recent weeks, the United States, the Zionist regime (Israel), some insidious powers in Europe and some groups have deployed all their means to strike the Iranian nation,” Khamenei said.

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