TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will lead Friday prayers in Tehran in the presence of the Basij volunteer Islamic militia, the Mehr news agency said on Thursday.
"Alert Basijis... with their epic presence, will take part in Friday's prayers to be led by Ayatollah Khamenei," the agency quoted a statement issued by the militia.
The Basij, which has been at the forefront of the crackdown on protesters, also warned the defeated presidential candidates who have complained about the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that they must "explicitly dissociate themselves from the rioters".
Supporters of defeated challengers Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have said they will join the prayers, for the rare occasion they are being led by Khamenei.
The Basij called for all sides to "avoid provocative actions."
The voluntary militia, which reportedly has hundreds of thousands of members, was formed under the orders of Islamic revolutionary founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini soon after the 1979 toppling of the US-backed shah.
Basij members became known for staging "human wave attacks" on Saddam Hussein's forces during the war with Iraq in the 1980s.
The militia is part of the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, which itself was formed to defend the Islamic republic from threats both domestic and external after the fall of the shah.
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