Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday accused the United States and Israel of fomenting protests that have rocked the Islamic republic for more than two weeks over the death of a 22-year-old woman, reported the Associated Press.

The woman, Mahsa Amini, was detained on September 13 in the Iranian capital of Tehran by the morality police that enforces the country’s obligatory dress codes, including the compulsory wearing of the headscarf in public. Officials say that she died by heart attack on September 16 while in custody, however, critics believe she was physically assaulted on accusations of violating the hijab mandate.

While breaking his silence on the protests, Khamenei on Monday described the anti-government demonstrations, some of the biggest the country has seen in years, as riots.

“This rioting was planned,” Khamenei told a cadre of police students in Tehran. “These riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime [Israel], and their employees.”

Khamenei said he was heartbroken by Amini’s death, but added that scenes of protestors removing their state-mandated headscarves and setting them on fire was “not normal”, reported AP.

The supreme leader also alleged that security forces had been subjected to injustice during the demonstrations, Reuters reported. “In recent incidents, it is above all security forces including the police and Basij, as well as the people of Iran, who were wronged,” he claimed.

133 dead in protests, says human rights organisation

His comments came after Oslo-based Iran Human Rights estimated on Sunday that at least 133 persons have been killed in the unrest. The human rights organisation also said that the Iranian security forces in Zahedan city, Sistan and Baluchistan province shot at protestors, killing more than 40 people on September 30.

Iranian authorities have not shared the updated toll, but they have maintained that several members of the security forces have been killed by “rioters and thugs backed by foreign foes”, reported Reuters. The state television said last week that 41 persons have died, including members of the security forces.

Meanwhile, Iran Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf on Sunday demanded harsher action on anti-hijab protestors and said that they could destabilise the country, reported AP.

On Sunday, several students at Sharif University in Tehran were trapped in the campus car park because of the protests, reported the BBC. The university has been traditionally known as a hotbed of dissent and on Sunday several students clashed with the Iranian security forces.

Khamenei’s comments on Monday come weeks after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned protestors against creating chaos in the country.

“There is freedom of expression in Iran... but acts of chaos are unacceptable,” Raisi had said. “If there is a party at fault, it certainly must be investigated. I contacted the family of the deceased at the very first opportunity and I assured them personally that we will continue steadfastly to investigate the incident.”