Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday condemned the "chaos" sparked by a wave of women-led protests over the death of a woman while in the custody of the Islamic Republic's morality police.
"Those who took part in the riots must be dealt with decisively, this is the demand of the people," said Raisi in a televised interview, as quoted by AFP.
"People's safety is the red line of the Islamic Republic of Iran and no one is allowed to break the law and cause chaos," he added.
"The enemy has targeted national unity and wants to pit people against each other," said Raisi, who accused the United States of stoking the unrest.
Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died on September 16, three days after she had been arrested for allegedly breaching Iran's strict rules for women on wearing hijab headscarves and modest clothing.
Amini's death sparked a wave of online criticism, with users noting that the injuries seen in a photo of her in a hospital bed point towards cranial injury as the cause of death, rather than a cardiac event as Iranian authorities had claimed.
Raisi, who has ordered a probe in the case, said on Wednesday the nation had felt "grief and sorrow" over Amini’s death, and that forensics and judiciary experts would soon present a final report, but also warned that "protests are different to riots".
As the Iranian protests have flared for 12 nights in a row, Iran's police command vowed its forces would confront them "with all their might", in a crackdown that one rights group says has already killed at least 76 people.
Iran has blamed outside forces for the unrest, including "counter-revolutionary" Kurdish groups based in northern Iraq -- across from Iran's Kurdistan province Amini hailed from, and where the protests first flared.