Iranian activists are warning about a bloody crackdown on the restive southwestern city of Izeh where the IRGC has killed two armed regime opponents and arrested many.

Izeh, a town of around 100,000 in the east of the oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan Province, has been restive since November 15 when a ten-year-old child, Kian Pourfalak was shot dead by security forces while in the car with his family during an evening of protests. Six others were also killed in the protests in Izeh that night.

Authorities claim the Pourfalak family car was attacked by “terrorists” who they also blame for the killing of other victims that night. On Tuesday, the Revolutionary Guards and other security forces raided the hideout of four regime opponents who were apparently armed, with heavy weapons and tanks according to social media reports. The government ties to pin the deaths in November on the four people. Internet and even phone lines to Izeh have been cut off.

Ten-year-old Kian Pourfalak who was killed in Izeh in November

Official media say two of these opponents were killed and two others were arrested in the raid. Photos of the hideout from where the four men fought the security forces for several hours indicate a heavy clash and the use of RPG grenade launchers and DShk heavy machine guns by the security forces.

Like Kian and many other residents of Izeh, the four armed young men, whose political affiliations are not known, belong to the very closely-knit Bakhtiari tribe, a Luri speaking population known historically for their bravery in war. The four had reportedly attacked security forces in Izeh on November 15 and taken out at least two of the snipers of the security forces firing at protesters.

Hossein Saeedi, one of the armed regime opponents in his tribal costume, killed in Izeh on December 20, 2022

Kian Pourfalak’s mother, Zaynab Molaei-Rad who was also in the car insists that it was security forces who sprayed their car with bullets that night on their way home. Kian’s father who was also seriously wounded in the shooting is still in hospital and has not been told about Kian’s death.

Video showing the attack by security forces on the house of the four regime opponents

There are photos of two of the Bakhtiari men taken from their social media which show them in their tribal attire posing with a battered Kalashnikov assault rifle. “When this regime kills people, it calls them rioters but when people kill them they are called terrorists,” Hossein Saeedi, one of the two men who was killed in the raid Tuesday, wrote in an Instagram post in which he said the only way to defeat “the dictator” is armed uprising across Iran.

The scene inside the house after the gunfight between the IRGC and armed opponents

“Those you killed and those you are torturing in prisons are all my brothers and sisters. I will take revenge, several-fold, on your brothers and sisters. I don’t care if I’m called a terrorist or a murderer. Everyone of you will pay for your deeds,” Saeedi wrote in another Instagram post before being killed. “This head will bow to no regime,” he said.

On Thursday, a large crowd of protesters gathered at the grave of Artin Rahmani in a village of Izeh for a 40th-day remembrance ceremony. “This land, to me, was of no benefit, yet I’m ready to drop dead for it!” Artin, a 17-year-old protester, wrote on Instagram only a couple of hours before being killed on the street on November 16.

Videos posted on social media show mourners In Izeh chanting, “Down with Khamenei” and other anti-government slogans including “IRGC killed our Artin, our Hamed”.

Hamed Salahshour whose name was also invoked alongside Artin’s by the protesters was a 23-year-old who was arrested at his home in Izeh on November 26.

Sources close to Salahshour’s family have told Iran International that authorities buried Hamed’s tortured and plastic-wrapped body in Ahvaz with only a few close family members present. The family has since exhumed and brought back the body to Izeh and given it a proper burial.

The government blames all protester deaths on “terrorists”, “enemies” or suicide and murder. So far, out of at least 500 confirmed protester deaths, authorities have taken responsibility only for one, Mehran Sammak, who was shot in the head in his car by a police officer in Anzali on November 30 for protest-honking. The officer was reportedly arrested later for wrongful use of firearms.

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