Claimed video of the Basij student rally and the start of the assault on the British Embassy
UPDATE 2104 GMT: Footage from Iran State outlet Press TV of the attack:
UPDATE 2051 GMT: Some additional information about the afternoon's events....
Iranian media reports that Iran Deputy Police Chief Ahmad Reza Radan entered the embassy at one point and gave an ultimatum to the occupiers to leave, as the occupiers demanded an end to Iranian relations with Britain. Fars also claims that police resorted to force, beating some protesters.
And in one of the more unusual statements of the day, Tehran Provincial Governor Morteza Tamaddon, who appeared at the Embassy at one point, said that it was functioning normally.
UPDATE 2047 GMT: Peyke Iran has posted a series of screenshots of videos of today's events.
UPDATE 2038 GMT: We are considering that today's often-confused events stem from tensions within the Iranian regime, with factions supporting the demonstrators and others opposing the attack on the British Embassy, and this development supports the hypothesis --- the Foreign Ministry has regretted the attack. MPs Esmail Kowsari, Hamid Rasaei, Zohreh Elahian, Mohammad Karamirad, and Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash, and the Islamic Engineers Society endorsed it; however, their colleague Abdoljabbar Karami has expressed criticism.
UPDATE 2033 GMT: Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Committee, has said that demonstrators were "expressing their inner feelings" when they stormed the British Embassies, but he added that other embassies should not be worried about similar attacks.
UPDATE 1833 GMT: British Foreign Secretary William J. Hague just released a statement calling the attacks irresponsible. Saying that the Iranian charge d'affaires had been summoned, he asserted that the UK government takes the matter extremely seriously and holds the Iranian Government responsible for any consequences:
“This afternoon our two Embassy compounds in Tehran were stormed by several hundred people, putting the safety of our diplomats and their families at risk and causing extensive damage to our property.
“It amounts to a grave breach of the Vienna Convention which requires the protection of diplomats and diplomatic premises under all circumstances.
“We hold the Iranian Government responsible for its failure to take adequate measures to protect our Embassy, as it is required to do.
“I spoke to the Iranian Foreign Minister this afternoon, to protest in the strongest terms about these events and to demand immediate steps to ensure the safety of our staff and of both Embassy compounds.
“The safety of our staff is our utmost priority. On our latest information it now appears that all our staff and their dependants are accounted for."
"We warn British nationals against all but essential travel to Iran, and we advise the small number that are in Iran to stay indoors and to await further advice... We have made clear to the Iranian Government that they must take immediate steps to ensure the safety of UK personnel... I will make a Statement updating Parliament on this tomorrow.”
UPDATE 1735 GMT: The embassy building is now emptied of protesters and security forces are in control of the situation, stationed inside and around the two buildings. As Fars News reports that all protesters have left, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs just released a statement expressing "disappointment" over what what it called "the unacceptable actions of a few protesters" who gathered in front of the UK Embassy even though the security forces tried to stop them. The statement calls for security agencies to take actions against the perpetrators of these actions and reaffirms Iran's commitment to international treaties.
Here's a video from Russia Today, showing a collection of footage from the protest:
UPDATE 1705 GMT: Fars again claims that all UK Embassy employees have been escorted out and are now safe. At the same time, the story skillfully diverts the blame from the government and portrays it as an independent action taken by angry student protesters. This is contrast to the "students" chanting slogans that clearly indicated they were members of the paramilitary Basij force. Meanwhile Khabar Online is reporting protesters have entered the embassy for a third time after being repulsed by police twice. At the same time, Tehran province's governor and the head of the province's security council Morteza Tamaddon has arrived in front of the embassy to assess the situation.
UPDATE 1650 GMT: The British Foreign Office has this as their latest in reaction to the attack:
An FCO spokesperson said:
"Senior officials have spoken to the Iranian charge in London to urge the Iranian authorities to act with utmost urgency to ensure the situation is brought under control and to protect our diplomatic compound, as they are obliged to do under international law.
"This is a fluid situation and details are still emerging.
"We have updated our travel advice to reflect today’s incident and now advise British nationals in Iran to stay indoors, keep a low profile and await further advice."
New photos of Bssij students smashing windows and setting a car on fire inside the UK Embassy have emerged. Here they are:
UPDATE 1550 GMT: Looks like we may have some clarity on the earlier story of six employees held "hostage" --- Fars reports that these were the people escorted from the Embassy compound by diplomatic police. Alef is also confirming the exit of all British Embassy employees from the building.
UPDATE 1525 GMT: The latest report from Mehr, posted an hour ago:
200 students are still holed up inside the embassy. After the students outside the embassy were dispersed, some of them have returned and more are coming. The students inside are asking for the ones outside to storm in and join them while the police are separating the two.
The police have warned the protesters outside that if they do not disperse, they won't let the ones that are stuck inside out so the students outside the embassy are now chanting, "Basiji Brothers Must be Freed!"
Some students inside the Embassy have reportedly formed a "Conqueror Committee", vowing to remain.
UPDATE 1515 GMT: Latest information....
Iranian news media reports that the assault on the British Embassy began at about 2 p.m. (1130 GMT) --- numbers range up to 1000, as reported by Raja News. with 200 still inside the compound.
The crowd quickly managed to enter the building. Some demonstrators took down the Union Jack, the British flag, and burnt it outside. Others also managed to enter the embassy's secondary building in Baghe Qolhak.
Raja News is claiming that students have held six British citizens hostage inside the second building. Diplomatic police escorted several employees out of the embassy.
At present, security forces have parked a bus outside the embassy building and are telling students outside the embassy gates to disperse or they will not let the students leave who are still inside. Raja News also states that police used tear gas to force the students that are inside the Baghe Qolhak building out.
There is still much confusion among the Iranian media over the story. Fars pulled a picture of the Basij inside the university, while Mehr took down the report of British "hostages" minutes after posting it.
More than 30 students, many of them from the Basij militia, protesting in front of the British Embassy, have attacked the building, seizing and tearing up documents, dismantling a satellite dish, and pulling down the British flag. More protesters entered as police tried to clear the site.
The students chanted, "Death to America", "Death to Britain", "Death to Israel", "The embassy of Britain should be taken over!", "Allahu Akbar", and "Students will die before accepting humiliation." They replaced the Union Jack with a banner in the name of Imam Hussein.
There was no immediate word on any casualties or the number of Embassy employees inside the building, which had closed for business before the attack. More protesters poured into the compound as police tried to clear the site, eventually leaving the premises just after 4:30 p.m. (1300 GMT), as firemen entered to put out any blazes.
State TV reported that another group of students gathered at the gate of British ambassador's residence in northern Tehran.
The British Foreign Office has put out the statement:
We are outraged by this. It is utterly unacceptable and we condemn it.
Under international law , including the Vienna Convention, the Iranian Government have a clear duty to protect diplomats and Embassies in their country and expect them to act urgently to bring the situation under control and ensure the safety of our staff and security of our property.
The demonstration was part of an organised show of force by the regime, coming two days after Parliament had passed a bill for the downgrading of relations with London, effectively demanding the expulsion of the British Ambassador. Iranian media have been comparing the Embassy to the "Nest of Spies", the US Embassy which was taken over by students in 1979.
Demonstrators also carried photographs of nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, assassinated a year ago today in an attack blamed on foreign intelligence services.
After getting into the building, protesters waived trophies from a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth to a large poster of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in the movie Pulp Fiction.