Iran's President Ebrahim Raeisi described the latest poisoning incidents in a number of schools across the country as a part of hybrid warfare against the Islamic Republic and called on all intelligence agencies to confront any health threats to the educational institutions.
Raeisi made the remarks in a meeting with the staff and personnel of Iran's Intelligence Ministry in the capital Tehran on Tuesday following reports about a spate of mystery poisonings of schoolgirls in several provinces, which came hot on the heels of recent foreign-backed riots across the country.
It is necessary to stay abreast of up-to-date developments and information and have a precise understanding of the nature of current threats to be able to confront the enemy in the recent hybrid warfare, Raeisi said.
Stressing that security threats can occur in any field, Raeisi pointed to the issue of public health threats in some schools and underscored the importance of the Intelligence Ministry’s preparedness to confront such threats.
Raeisi emphasized the need to know the precise aspects of such threats and to take “pre-emptive and timely” measures to effectively deal with the enemy's hybrid warfare.
The Iranian chief executive called on the Intelligence Ministry to provide reports and solutions and to “continue its supervision” so that the problem is solved and public trust is restored.
In a national event on Monday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei called the suspected poisoning of students in Iran's schools an “unforgivable and big” crime, calling on authorities to seriously pursue the issue.
"This is a crime, as it is perpetrated against the most innocent members of society, the children. It also causes fear and psychological insecurity in society and worries families. These issues should be followed seriously, and if the perpetrators are convicted, there will be no amnesty for them. And they must be punished and their punishment should serve as a lesson," the Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei noted that responsible bodies, including intelligence and law enforcement agencies, should find the origin of the crime, as well as the agents and the masterminds.
In an address to a cabinet session on Sunday, Raeisi also said the issue of schoolgirl poisonings across Iran amounts to a "crime and an inhumane act" committed by the enemies against the nation.
The president ordered Iranian officials to swiftly probe into the case and inform people about its whereabouts to allay their concerns. He also stressed the importance of finding the main perpetrators of the act and dealing with them seriously.
Since November 2022, some Iranian students have reported symptoms of poisoning while in school. The outbreak started in Qom before expanding to other cities.
In most cases, students suffered respiratory problems, nausea, fatigue and dizziness, while some were hospitalized.
Enemy’s hybrid war defeated: Khatib
Speaking at the same meeting, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib said the enemy is waging a hybrid war against the country but it has been defeated through the efforts of the intelligence forces and other security apparatuses in the country.
"The enemy tried hard to turn the recent riots into a full-scale war in different ethnic, religious and other fronts, but it failed with the measures and efforts of various apparatuses, especially intelligence forces,” Khatib said.
“Today, the enemies admit to their failure and are desperate," he added.
Foreign-backed riots broke out in Iran in mid-September after the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini. She fainted at a police station in the capital Tehran and was pronounced dead three days later at the hospital. An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization concluded that Amini’s death was caused by illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.
Iran’s intelligence community has said several countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have used their spy and propaganda apparatuses to provoke violent riots in the country.
Rioters went on a rampage, brutally attacking security officers and causing massive damage to public property. Dozens of people and security personnel were killed in the riots.
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