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In an interview with Tasnim News, Hassan Karami, commander of the police force’s special units, created in the early 1970s to suppress popular protests, announced that a special “anti-riot” unit for women was being set up. Karami said that the women’s unit would not carry batons while on patrol.

Karami said he considers the motorcycle force to be the most important of the special units, proudly observing that “in November 2019, each of our motorcyclists in cities such as Tehran, Shiraz, and Isfahan sometimes traveled up to 270 kilometers in a day and night; that is, they had a point of conflict and then went on to another point.”

Karami also claimed that the special police units carry only non-lethal weapons, including hoses, paintballs, and rifles that fire soft plastic bullets. Although the January 2018 protests over rampant inflation involved more than 160 Iranian cities, Iranian authorities claimed the death toll was only 25 people.  In the week-long November 2019 protests, sparked by a hike in gas prices, the estimated death toll ranged from 300 (Amnesty International) to 1,500 (Reuters), many of whom were shot in the head or heart.

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