Trump says Iran is killing 'thousands'

U.S. President Donald Trump at the NATO summit in London on Tuesday said Iran is killing thousands of protesters angry over gas prices and the country's leadership... sparking a government crackdown…

Disturbances in Iran began in mid-November over a sharp fuel hike but quickly turned political, with demonstrators demanding the removal of the top leaders of the country in the bloodiest anti-government protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING:

""Iran is killing perhaps thousands and thousands of people right now as we speak... Not just small numbers which are bad, big numbers which are really bad, and really big numbers."

The President's claim of thousands killed is much higher than other estimates. the New York Times in recent days reported that "at least 180 people ... and possibly hundreds more…" which still makes it the deadliest crackdown in Iran in 40 years.

A recent internet blackout has reportedly also slowed the release of information from the country.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING:

"That is why they cut off the internet so people can't see what is going on..."

The fuel hike and subsequent protests came as the cost of living is increasing in a country with a struggling economy that analysts say is in part a result of sanctions imposed by the U.S. after Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

According to a report from the Guardian, Iran state TV on Tuesday acknowledged that security forces killed quote "rioters" during last month's protests.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING:

"It is a terrible thing and the world has to be watching."