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Protests Erupt After Iran Admits Guilt

And Ukraine is demanding a full apology over downed passenger plane that killed 176 people
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2020 3:00 PM CST
Protesters Hit the Streets: 'Khamenei Is a Murderer!'
People gather for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Ukraine plane crash, at the gate of Amri Kabir University that some of the victims of the crash were former students of, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.   (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

(Newser) – Iran's admission that it "unintentionally" shot down a passenger jet this week, killing all 176 on board, hasn't exactly eased tensions. Thousands of angry protesters hit the streets in Iran on Saturday and faced tear gas from riot police, the New York Times reports. Videos show some protesters calling for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's head: "Khamenei is a murderer!" they shouted. "Death to liars! Death to the dictator! You have no shame!" Some social media posts even showed torn pictures of Gen. Qassim Soleimani, whose killing by the US sparked the Iranian missile strike that caused the downing of the Ukrainian jetliner. For more:

  • Full admission: Ukraine is demanding a full apology and payment for the passenger plane, the Washington Examiner reports. "Iran has pleaded guilty to downing the Ukrainian plane," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "But we insist on a full admission of guilt." Ukraine also accuses Iran of recklessly allowing commercial flights during the crisis and violating procedure by bulldozing debris from the crash.

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  • 'I wish I had died': Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps airspace unit, took full responsibility. He said the plane was mistaken for a cruise missile and shot down. "I wish I had died" instead of seeing crash, he said, per Newsweek.
  • 'Human error': While Khamenei expressed "deep sympathy" for families of the dead, CNN reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted: "Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster."
  • 'A mistake': But Iran has backed down from its contention, per Reuters, that the plane had flown too close to a sensitive military base. "The plane was flying in its normal direction without any error and everybody was doing their job correctly," said Hajizadeh. "If there was a mistake, it was made by one of our members."
  • Investigation: An international group has been created with representatives from Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, the UK, and Afghanistan to investigate the crash, per the CBC. USA Today reports that Ukrainian and Iranian officials have begun analyzing the plane's black boxes.
  • Damning quote: "If this had been a domestic airline, we would have never discovered the truth," said an Iranian protester, per the Wall Street Journal. "International pressure made them come out and admit it."
(Read more Iran stories.)

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