Thousands of Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen deployed for crackdown on opposition

DEBKAfile June 17, 2009, 9:17 PM (GMT+02:00)

Wednesday afternoon, June 17, armored convoys of Revolutionary Guard forces began rolling into Tehran from three directions to prevent supporters of the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi assembling on the fifth day after the disputed presidential election, DEBKAfile‘s Iranian sources report.

Special IRGC forces and police units are being flown in. Hundreds of opposition activities have been arrested, including some economic experts who criticized president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies in recent months, after three reformist politicians, including a former Vice President and adviser to former president Mohammed Khatami, were detained Tuesday.

Nonetheless, a number of demonstrators did turn out Wednesday afternoon and Mousavi defied supreme ruler Ayatollah Khamenei’s demand for the defeated presidential challengers to refrain from stirring up more tension, by calling on his website for supporters to gather Thursday to silently and peacefully commemorate their fellows shot by security forces Monday night and protest the rigged election.

Because security forces are expected to block 7th Tir Square, the opposition leader advised his followers to assemble in mosques as well as the streets in mark of solidarity with the victims.

DEBKAfile‘s Iranian sources report the confrontation between the regime and Iran’s protest movement is closer than ever to a bloody climax. Thursday, June 18, may be critical. This will depend on Mousavi proving able to call up masses of supporters in the face of ominous signs that large military forces are assembling in Tehran to shoot them down.

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