Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo: leader.ir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended in a televised address Sunday gasoline price increases and rationing that have triggered deadly protests in the country, which he blamed on "foreign enemies," Reuters reports.

"The counter-revolution and Iran’s enemies have always supported sabotage and breaches of security and continue to do so. ... Unfortunately some problems were caused, a number of people lost their lives and some centers were destroyed."

The big picture: Demonstrations have been held this week across the country, which is crippled by U.S. sanctions, per AFP. One person died and several others were injured Friday in the city of Sirjan when protesters "tried to set a fuel depot ablaze but were thwarted by security forces."

  • Social media users reported several protesters died when "riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators in Tehran and dozens of other cities" across Iran on Saturday, Reuters reports.


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Elliott Abrams to replace Brian Hook as Trump's Iran envoy

Brian Hook. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

President Trump's Iran envoy, Brian Hook, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Thursday. He will be replaced with Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams, a noted Iran hawk who will serve in both roles.

Why it matters: Hook had been tasked with executing Trump's "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran, working closely with Pompeo. That strategy has deepened tensions and thus far failed to force Iran back to the negotiating table, as Trump had hoped.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump visit

Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has tested positive for COVID-19 and plans to quarantine at his home for the next 14 days, his office announced Thursday. He currently has no symptoms.

Why it matters: The 73-year-old DeWine was set to meet President Trump Thursday on the tarmac at an airport in Cleveland and was tested as part of standard protocol. He is the second governor known to have contracted the coronavirus, after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R).

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 18,860,908 — Total deaths: 708,676— Total recoveries — 11,394,821Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 4,834,546 — Total deaths: 158,445 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Fauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery — Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.