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Police, Protesters Clash Near Iran's Parliament

Iranian police blocked protesters from gathering in Tehran Wednesday, as the nation's supreme leader insisted authorities will not yield to demands for a new election.

Witnesses say riot police forcibly dispersed hundreds of people who gathered near Iran's parliament for another post-election protest.

The witnesses told VOA Persian News Network and other news agencies that security forces used tear gas and batons and fired weapons to break up the rally.

In an address Wednesday on state television, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he insists on implementing the law on the election. He said "neither the establishment nor the nation will yield to pressure at any cost."

Iranian media reported Tuesday the nation's Guardian Council will not annul results of the June 12 election.

Iran's government has maintained a heavy police presence in the streets, especially since last Saturday's violence between authorities and protesters killed at least 10 people. Hundreds of people have been arrested.

In Washington, several experts on Iran told U.S. Senate lawmakers the opposition movement in Iran likely will continue, despite the government's crackdown on demonstrations.

Analyst Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says the opposition recognizes that its next step is to target major parts of Iran's economy. He says protesters have called for strikes among labor groups and in key industries such as petroleum.

The experts spoke at a roundtable held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Iran's disputed vote has triggered the country's greatest unrest since the 1979 revolution, and the government has created a special court to try the hundreds of Iranians it has arrested in the post-election turmoil.

Iran's official death toll stands at 17 since unrest began, but witnesses to clashes between protesters and security forces put the toll much higher. Figures cannot be verified because Iran has severely restricted news organizations' abilities to report from the country.

Opposition protesters say Iran's presidential vote was rigged. They cite many alleged instances of election fraud, among them a contention that the reported margin of victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi was impossibly high. Iran's Guardian Council has admitted finding voter irregularities in 50 districts.

The council says it will continue to investigate polling complaints beyond Wednesday's set deadline (until June 29th), but it has ruled out overturning the results.

Video of the protests obtained by VOA's Persian News Network can be found here: You also can follow PNN's Twitter feed in Farsi:

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Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.