Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The Department of State's special envoy for Iran said Thursday that Tehran may have killed more than a thousand citizens during recent protests that he called "the worst political crisis the regime has faced in its 40 years."
Brian Hook, special representative for Iran and senior advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told reporters in Washington, D.C., that the State Department knows "for certain" that the death toll from the Iran government's crackdown on protests is in the "many, many hundreds," a number that could increase as more information becomes available.
On Monday, Amnesty International said at least 208 people had died though "the real figure is likely to be higher."
Hook said the State Department's number is based on a collection of "crowdsourcing intelligence," video and intelligence reports from various groups, among other sources of information, it has received.
"As the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over a thousand Iranian citizens since the protests began," including at least a dozen children, he said, adding that many thousands have been injured and at least 7,000 have been detained.
Protests erupted in Iran mid-November over a fuel price hike, prompting the government to confront it with security forces and a near-total Internet blackout.
On Nov. 22, Pompeo asked for Iranian protesters to send videos documenting the crackdown so the United States can "expose and sanction the abusers."
Hook said they have received more than 32,000 videos and the State Department has determined those responsible for committing "gross human rights violations" under U.S. law and has asked Congress to impose strict sanctions against them.
"These protests have made clear what Secretary [Mike] Pompeo and I have been saying for quite some time: The Iranian people want the regime to focus on investing in people, not proxies," he said. "They are sick of the regime squandering its wealth on proxy warfare, which leads only to economic pressure and diplomatic isolation."
He said the regime only has the support of a "handful of clerics" the people "despise" and it is only holding onto power through force.
"Now is the time for all nations to stand with the Iranian people, diplomatically isolate the regime and sanction those officials who are responsible for murdering innocent Iranians," he said.