Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard: 'Strike teams' sent to patrol oil-rich province

Paramilitary religious militia also plans to 'tackle thugs' in Tehran

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has reportedly formed paramilitary “strike teams” in the country’s capital and plans to patrol the southern oil-rich province of Khuzestan to bolster security there.

The state-run Hamshahri newspaper reported Tuesday that members of the Basij, a plain-clothed religious militia, were ready to “tackle thugs and disrupters of security” in Tehran, according to Bloomberg News. 

There have been no recent reports of unrest in the capital that would justify the deployment of "strike teams."

Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war.

Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war. (Reuters)

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Yazdi, who commands Revolutionary Guard forces in Tehran, said that the corps is also preparing to “activate patrols” in Khuzestan after reports of “theft and insecurity” in certain cities within the province, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.

The province is notorious for protests by industrial workers over unpaid wages and corruption. Union leaders and human rights activists there have been imprisoned.

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The reports of the new patrols come less than a week after Iranian authorities executed Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old wrestler, for allegedly murdering a man. President Trump had asked for Afkari’s life to be spared.

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Afkari's case had drawn the attention of a social media campaign that portrayed him and his brothers as victims targeted over participating in protests against Iran’s Shiite theocracy in 2018. Authorities accused Afkari of stabbing a water supply company employee in the southern city of Shiraz amid the unrest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.