Protests erupt in Iran after country admits to downing Ukraine plane

Iranian anti-government protestors filled the streets of Tehran on Saturday after the Iranian government admitted that it allegedly mistakenly shot down a Kyiv-bound commercial airplane.

Videos of the protests show people in large numbers shouting, "Khamenei is a murderer!" according to The New York Times

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down Wednesday shortly after leaving Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. All 176 people on board — including Ukrainians, Iranians and Canadians — were killed.

ADVERTISEMENT

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the event as "human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism" in a tweet.

The crash came just hours after Iran launched a retaliatory missile strike on two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops. The attack was a response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE's authorization of an airstrike last week that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top military commander, in Baghdad.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday, according to the Times.
 
Rouhani's apology wasn't enough to quell the protestors, though, as many shouted "Death to liars" and "Death to the dictator" in reference to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the paper.
 
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo promotes economic ties, takes aim at corruption in Africa visit Russian foreign minister says he sensed 'more constructive' approach after meeting with Pompeo Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim MORE made a statement about the upheaval, tweeting, "The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude, and brutality of the IRGC under @khamenei_ir's kleptocracy."

Other world leaders whose citizens perished in the crash took to social media to make statements about what they deem are the next steps following Iran's admission. 

“We expect Iran to assure its readiness for a full and open investigation, to bring those responsible to justice, to return the bodies of the victims, to pay compensation, and to make official apologies through diplomatic channels,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Facebook post.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We hope that the investigation will continue without artificial delays and obstacles," he added.

Initially after the crash, Iranian officials firmly refuted claims by Canada, the U.S. and other countries that the it shot down the Boeing 737-800. However, evidence, including a video of the plane's final seconds, began to surface in the days following the incident.