Tehran: Protesters denouncing Iran’s clerical rulers took to the streets and riot police deployed to face them yesterday, in a third day of demonstrations after authorities acknowledged mistakenly shooting down a passenger plane.
Iran’s president called last week’s downing of the Ukrainian plane a “disastrous mistake” on Saturday, saying its air defences were fired in error while on alert after it carried out missile strikes on US
targets in Iraq.
Iranian public anger, rumbling for days after Tehran had repeatedly denied it was to blame for the plane crash, erupted into protests when the military admitted its role.
A full picture of protests inside Iran is difficult to obtain because of restrictions on independent media.
But videos uploaded to the Internet showed scores, possibly hundreds, of protesters yesterday at sites in Tehran and Isfahan, a major city south of the capital.
Video showed students chanting slogans including “Clerics get lost!” outside universities in Isfahan and in Tehran, with riot police taking positions on the streets.
Images from the previous two days of protests showed wounded people being carried and pools of blood on the ground. Gunshots could be heard, although the police have denied opening fire.
The demonstrations are the latest twist in one of the most serious increases in tension between Washington and Tehran since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
US President Donald Trump, who raised the stakes earlier this month by ordering a drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful military commander, tweeted to Iran’s leaders: “don’t kill your protesters.”
Iran’s government spokesman dismissed Trump’s comments, saying Irani
ans were suffering because of his actions and they would remember he had ordered the killing of General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
The protests come at a precarious time for the authorities in Iran and the proxy forces they support to wield influence across the Mideast.