Footage showing Iranian security forces massacring protesters using live ammunition in Zehdan, southern Iran during Friday prayers was posted online, showing shows Iranians bleeding and apparently shot.
Other videos purportedly show the aftermath of clashes between locals and members of the local security forces, with protesters allegedly trying to storm a police station and being shot.
Protests in minorities-dominated areas surge in Iran
The recent incident came as protests continue in Iran and the regime appears to be resorting to more force against the protesters. In Sistan Balochistan, Iran fears a larger rebellion among the minority Baloch people. This area borders Afghanistan and Pakistan. There has been an insurgency in this region for many years, including across the border in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, in Ahwaz, the province in Iran's Southwest which contains a large Arab minority, there were also protests reported on Friday. The overall picture then is one of the growth of the protests in southern Iran. The protests began in the Kurdistan region two weeks ago, but they have spread to Tehran and many other cities. The regime was careful the first week to not carry out massacres.
However, as the protests are now two weeks old the regime is lashing out and has threatened to attack US forces in Iraq after attacking Kurdish opposition groups on September 28 with missiles and drones. Iran has been bombarding these Kurdish groups for a week.
Iran claims to foil "Zionist plan for chaos"
In addition, on Thursday night, Iranian media reported that it had foiled what the regime called a "Zionist" plan for chaos in Iran. The regime also admitted numerous banks and financial institutions had been damaged in the protests.
Meanwhile, Iran's regime may be facing more critiques from its own scholars and clerics, as it cracks down on women, minorities, journalists and massacres protesters. An Iran International report says that students and teachers in Qom and other important cities have issued statements against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This could be hard for the regime as well because it is not clear how lucid the Supreme Leader is and the regime may be losing legitimacy at the top and at the bottom; meaning it faces increasing anger from minority regions, such as the Kurdish region; and also among its own supporters.
Iran's regime is also lashing out at Saudi Arabia, slamming Gulf media for stoking the protests. It is also going after its own celebrities, claiming they incite riots. The top news on Tasnim, a news media close to the IRGC, called for harsh punishment for "rioters." This shows a shift in regime rhetoric from trying to calm tensions and even make up for killing a woman for not wearing a head covering; to threatening the US, Israel and the Gulf; and beginning to massacre more minority groups in the South.
Seth Frantzman is a Ginsburg-Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and senior Middle East correspondent at The Jerusalem Post.