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Trump offers fresh support for protesters in Iran as demonstrations continue

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Meng Tao/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)

President Donald Trump again offered support Saturday for anti-government protesters in Iran, where a third day of demonstrations, the largest in years, spilled across the country amid fears of a crackdown.

“Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump took a break from playing golf near his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to tweet clips from his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September when he called for Iranian democratic reforms.

Iranian authorities warned of potential violence as the street demonstrations, which began over economic conditions, swelled into frustrations with the theocratic rule of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump has maintained a hawkish stance toward Iran, sharply criticizing the landmark nuclear disarmament accord that Tehran reached with then-President Barack Obama and five other nations in 2015.

In October, Trump declined to certify the accord to Congress although the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency says Iran is complying with it.

Several conservative GOP senators signaled their support for Trump’s position and backed the protesters in Iran. Others in Congress did not immediately respond, however, amid conflicting reports over who had organized the demonstrations.

“Even after the billions in sanctions relief they secured through the nuclear deal, the ayatollahs still can’t provide for the basic needs of their own people,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a Trump ally and opponent of the nuclear deal.

“We should support the Iranian people who are willing to risk their lives to speak out against it,” he added.

Trump initially tweeted his support on Friday night. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement at that time as protests spread.

“There are many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” Sanders said. “The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves. The world is watching.”

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© 2017 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.