Crowds in Tehran call on leadership to resign after Tehran admits it mistakenly downed plane with 176 people on board.
Protesters in Iran’s capital, Tehran, have demanded the resignation of senior leaders following the admission of authorities – after days of denials – that Iranian forces accidentally downed a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 people on board.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 bound for Kyiv, Ukraine, crashed minutes after takeoff from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday. It happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
“You, as the commander in chief of the armed forces, are directly responsible for this,” he said in a statement.
“If you were aware and you let military and security authorities deceive people, then there is no doubt you lack the attributes of constitutional leadership.”
Iran ‘deceived the entire world’: Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran “lied intentionally” about the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752.
“They knew from the start that they had downed it. They knew that it was an unintentional downing, but lied intentionally,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
Canada’s Trudeau to attend plane crash victim memorial
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to attend what is expected to be the country’s largest memorial to the victims of the Ukrainian airliner shot down in Iran.
Trudeau’s office confirmed on Saturday that the prime minister will address the memorial service, due to be held in a basketball arena that seats 1,700 people in the western city of Edmonton. Thirteen of the victims lived in Edmonton.
Memorials are also planned on Sunday in Toronto.
Top Iran Guard briefs Parliament over downed jet
Iran’s top Guards commander, Major General Hossein Salami, briefed Parliament in a closed-session about Soleimani’s assassination, Iran’s retaliation and the downing of the airliner, semi-official news agency ISNA said.
Reparation for victims depends on ‘Tehran-Kyiv settlement’: IRNA
An official from the Iran Civil Aviation Organisation said reparation for victims of the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 depends on a settlement between Iran and Ukraine “due to the process of the air disaster”, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.
Hassan Razaeefar said the plane was insured by a Ukrainian company, which would usually cover the plane, the passengers, and their belongings on board.
“Normally the contractors pay reparation, but taking into consideration the fact that this crash was not normal, the two countries need to reach a settlement,” Razaeefar said, according to IRNA.
Iranian newspapers pay tribute to crash victims
Newspapers in Iran paid tribute to those killed in the Ukrainian passenger plane while heaping pressure on the country’s leadership amid growing public anger.
EU’s diplomatic chief urges ‘de-escalation’
The EU’s diplomatic chief criticised Iran for briefly detaining the British ambassador to Tehran, calling for “de-escalation”.
“Very concerned about the temporary detention of the UK Ambassador @HMATehran in Iran. Full respect of the Vienna convention is a must. The EU calls for de-escalation and space for diplomacy,” Josep Borrell tweeted.
UK envoy denies taking part in Iran protest before arrest
Rob Macaire, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Tehran, denied that he took part in a demonstration that erupted at a memorial for the 176 people killed when a plane was shot down.
“Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy,” Rob Macaire wrote on Twitter, saying he left “after 5 minutes, when some started chanting”.
Macaire added he was detained for half an hour “after leaving the area”.
IRGC head ‘briefing parliament’
The chief of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was briefing Parliament over the killing of Soleimani, Tehran’s retaliation and the subsequent downing Ukrainian airliner, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Major General Hossein Salami was addressing the members of the Majles in a closed session, ISNA reported.
Twitter users decry Trump’s Tweets
Twitter users criticised Trump for saying he stood in solidarity with the Iranian people, noting that he previously threatened to attack 52 Iranian sites “very hard” as tensions between the two nations escalated earlier this month.
“How about you sit down and mind your own business?!” one Twitter user said.
“Only on planet Trump can you ban Iranians from visiting their family in the US, deny them access to life-saving drugs, threaten to bomb their cultural heritage, and then claim that you are in solidarity with them,” another Twitter said, referring to US sanctions against Iran and the US administration’s Muslim ban.
Trump ‘monitoring protests’ in Iran
US President Donald Trump told Iranians in tweets in both English and Farsi that he stands by them and is monitoring the demonstrations.
“To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you,” he tweeted.
“There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching,” he added.
“We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage,” he said.
Britain’s ambassador to Iran briefly arrested
The United Kingdom confirmed its ambassador, Rob Macaire, was arrested briefly by Iranian authorities during demonstrations in Tehran. He was accused of “inciting” the protesters in front of the Amir Kabir University on Saturday.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the arrest was a “flagrant violation of international law” and repeated calls for Iran to de-escalate tensions.
“The Iranian government is at a crossroads moment,” Raab said in a statement. “It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.”
Truth about Iran crash could not be hidden: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy
The findings by Ukrainian experts in Iran meant the truth about the crash could not be concealed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a televised address.
He also said he had agreed with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on the beginning of joint work to decode the black boxes of the Ukrainian plane that was shot down this week. He also urged Ukraine’s international partners to remain united and persistent until the investigation was complete.