Hundreds of people protest in Tehran. Protests erupt to demand the resignation of the supreme leader.
The admission by Iran of its responsibility in the demolition of the Ukrainian plane that fell near the Tehran airport after being hit by a missile caused a sharp turn yesterday in the Middle East crisis and put the supreme leader under heavy pressure, Ali Khamenei, with protests in the streets of the capital, who demanded his resignation “Our enemy is here. It is a lie to say that the enemy is the United States.” “Commander, quit!” Shouted thousands of protesters yesterday who met in Tehran, mostly students, to express their rejection of the regime and their solidarity with the 176 victims of the Ukraine Airlines flight. President Donald Trump said last night that he “closely” followed the protests in Iran and called on the regime to avoid “another massacre of peaceful protesters,” referring to the more than 300 killed in the demonstrations last November, denounced by Amnesty International.
Earlier, after facing increasing international pressure, the Revolutionary Guard acknowledged that it was an Iranian missile that shot down “by mistake” the plane, after the government completely rejected the accusations of Canada, the United States and Britain for their responsibility in the air tragedy.
Hundreds of people protest in Iran. The aircraft crashed on the ground in the early hours of Wednesday hours after Iran launched an offensive with ballistic missiles against two Iraqi bases that housed US soldiers, in retaliation for the murder of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, in a Washington-led attack in Baghdad.
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the aerospace division of the Revolutionary Guard. He said later that his unit assumed “full responsibility” for what happened. In a speech on state television, he acknowledged that when he learned of the plane’s demolition “I wanted to be dead.”
The Revolutionary Guard forces surrounding the Iranian capital had reinforced their air defenses and were at their “highest level of preparedness” for fear of reprisals from the United States, the general explained. “At that time, the system is facing, at a distance of 19 kilometers, with a goal that stands out as a cruise missile, “Hajizadeh said.
The military chief said that before firing the operator tried to contact his commanders to obtain approval, but the communication system gave an error and made a “bad and hurried” decision. “We had only ten seconds to decide,” he justified. For its part Khamenei expressed his “deep empathy” towards the families of the victims and asked the Armed Forces to “pursue possible failures and those guilty in the painful incident.” On the international level, the first reaction corresponded yesterday to the President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenski, who requested that the investigation of the tragedy go ahead, the “authors” be brought to justice and financially compensate relatives of the victims.
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, the country to which most of the plane’s foreign victims belonged, said he was “shocked and furious” over the demolition. Although Iran and Canada have not had diplomatic relations since 2012, Trudeau said he spoke by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rohani to demand an “exhaustive investigation” about this “horrible tragedy.”
Information and Image have been shared from an Article source by Reuters, on January 12th, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters News Agency, 2020.