Hundreds of Tehran demonstrators, possibly members of the hard-core Banji militia, demonstrated at the British embassy where a number of them broke into the compound, threw rocks, gasoline bombs, burned flags and threw documents out the window.
There were conflicting accounts of whether any hostages were taken in the embassy assault, which appeared to be a pre-orchestrated event sanctioned by the Iranian authoritiesl. Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency said six people from the embassy were seized by Iranian students from Tehran universities but inexplicably withdrew the report minutes later.
The semi-official Fars news agency said security forces were trying to eject the protesters, who were a minority from a larger group staging an anti-UK demonstration outside the compound…Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Tehran, said that the police and various ministries had prior knowledge of the protest, which was organised by the student arm of the Basij armed group
“Any such action of this could scale can never be independent in the Islamic Republic. These gatherings are always approved by higher officials,” said Jabbari.
In an appearance on state television on Sunday, Sardar Mohamad Reza Naghdi, the commander of the Basij, said that the unit was “counting the moments” until it could strike against “Zionist forces”.
Jabbari said there a number of protesters had been taken into custody and that as of Tuesday evening, there was no official response from the Iranian government on how the protest unfolded.
Reaction to New UK Sanctions
The actions were in response to Britain’s tightening of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, including forbidding transactions with the Central Bank, and it followed an Iranian Parliament vote to downgrade diplomatic relations with Britain.
Information is still murky and ‘facts’ are subject to change. It’s unclear if the break-away group was sanctioned by the Iranian government or not. Regardless, the incident is a serious breach of international law and the duty of host countries to protect foreign embassies.