Trump warns Iran against ‘massacre’ as protests erupt over jetliner downing
Iran said earlier that it accidentally dropped a Ukrainian jetliner outside Tehran, killing all 176 people on board, in a sudden reversal after it had initially denied Western reports that a missile had hit it.
President Hassan Rouhani said a military investigation into the disaster had identified the Boeing 737 “missiles fired because of human error,” calling it an “unforgivable mistake.”
In a student protest to pay tribute to the victims of the crash on Saturday, Iranian authorities briefly detained Britain’s ambassador, in what the British government called an international law violation. He was subsequently released.
Donald Trump has told Iranians, in both English and Farsi tweets, that he is standing by them and 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 be no more massacre of peaceful protesters, nor closure of the internet. The world is watching,” he added, referring apparently to an Iranian crackdown on street protests which broke out in November.
“We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage,” he said.
The latest demonstrations follow a Iranian crackdown on street protests that broke out in November. Amnesty International has said it left more than 300 dead.
Access to the Internet has reportedly been cut off in many Iranian provinces ahead of memorials scheduled a month after the protest.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for Iran to provide “full clarity” on the plane’s downing. Ottawa says 57 Canadians were amongst the dead.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also offered his condolences and ordered the armed forces to address “deficiencies” so that such a disaster would not happen again.
Tehran’s acknowledgment came after officials in Iran dismissed Western reports for days that a missile had hit the Ukraine International Airlines plane in a disastrous mistake.
Shortly after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport Wednesday, the Kiev-bound plane crashed into a field.