Iran Protesters Take to the Streets in Third Day of Demos Over Plane

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Iranians chant slogans as they march in support of the government near the Imam Khomeini grand mosque in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017. Tens of thousands of regime supporters marched in cities across Iran in a show of strength for the regime after two days of angry protests directed against the country's religious rulers. / AFP PHOTO / TASNIM NEWS / HAMED MALEKPOURHAMED MALEKPOUR/AFP/Getty Images

Protesters took to the streets of Iran for a third day on Monday, expressing outrage over the authorities’ admission that they had shot down a passenger plane by accident during a confrontation with the United States.

Video from inside Iran showed riot police and protesters back out on the streets on Monday after two days of violent anti-government demonstrations. Images of the earlier protests showed slogans chanted against the supreme leader, with pools of blood on the streets and gunfire in the air.

Authorities denied that police had opened fire, while US President Donald Trump tweeted: “don’t kill your protesters.”

Demonstrations at home against Iran‘s rulers are the latest twist in one of the most destabilizing escalations between the United States and Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Tehran has acknowledged shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner by mistake on Wednesday, killing 176 people, hours after it had fired at US bases to retaliate for the killing of Iran‘s most powerful military commander in a drone strike ordered by Trump.

Iranian public anger, rumbling for days as Iran repeatedly denied it was to blame for the plane crash, erupted into protests on Saturday when the military admitted its role.

Videos posted late on Sunday recorded gunshots in the vicinity of protests in Tehran’s Azadi Square. Wounded were being carried and security personnel could be seen running with rifles. Other posts showed riot police hitting protesters with batons as people nearby shouted, “Don’t beat them!”

“Death to the dictator,” footage circulating on social media showed protesters shouting, directing their fury at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the system of clerical rule.

“They killed our elites and replaced them with clerics,” demonstrators chanted at a protest outside a university on Monday, an apparent reference to Iranian students returning to studies in Canada who were among those killed on the flight.

Reuters could not independently authenticate the footage. State-affiliated media reported the protests on Saturday and Sunday in Tehran and other cities, without giving such details.

Showdown

“At protests, police absolutely did not shoot because the capital’s police officers have been given orders to show restraint,” Hossein Rahimi, head of the Tehran police, said in a statement carried by the state broadcaster’s website.

Iran‘s latest showdown with the US has come at a precarious time for the authorities in Tehran and their allies across the Middle East, when sanctions imposed by Trump have caused deep harm to the Iranian economy.

Iranian authorities killed hundreds of protesters in November in what appears to have been the bloodiest crackdown on anti-government unrest since the 1979 revolution. In Iraq and Lebanon, governments that have the support of Iran-backed armed groups have also faced months of hostile mass demonstrations.

Trump wrote on Twitter late on Sunday that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien had “suggested today that sanctions & protests have Iran ‘choked off,’ will force them to negotiate.”

“Actually, I couldn’t care less if they negotiate. Will be totally up to them but, no nuclear weapons and ‘don’t kill your protesters,’” he wrote, repeating his earlier tweets making similar calls to the Iranian authorities not to open fire.

Iran‘s government spokesman dismissed Trump’s comments, saying Iranians were suffering because of his actions and they would remember that he had ordered the killing in a drone strike of Qassem Soleimani, the general whose death on Jan. 3 prompted huge mourning ceremonies in Iran over several days.

Retaliation

Trump precipitated the escalation with Iran in 2018 by pulling out of a deal between Tehran and world powers under which sanctions were eased in return for Iran curbing its nuclear program. He has said the goal is to force Iran to agree to a more stringent pact.

Iran has repeatedly said it will not negotiate as long as US sanctions are in place.

The recent flare-up began in December when rockets fired at US bases in Iraq killed an American contractor. Washington blamed pro-Iran militia and launched air strikes that killed at least 25 fighters. The militia surrounded the US embassy in Baghdad for two days, and Trump later ordered the strike on Soleimani, who had built up Iran‘s regional network of allied militia.

Iran retaliated on Wednesday by firing missiles at Iraqi bases where US troops were stationed, but did not kill any Americans. The Ukrainian plane, on its way to Kiev, crashed hours later. Most of those killed were Iranians or Iranian dual nationals. Scores were Canadians, most believed to be dual nationals who had traveled to Iran to visit relatives there.

After days of denying responsibility, commanders of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards issued profuse apologies. Iran‘s president called it a “disastrous mistake.” A top commander said he had told the authorities on the day of the crash it had been shot down, raising questions about why Iran had initially denied it.

Canada held vigils. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told one event: “We will not rest until there are answers.”

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said it had obtained visas for two of its investigators to travel to Iran.

 Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

{Matzav.com}

1 COMMENT

  1. Protesters in Iran bravely paid the ultimate insult to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei by walking on a regime poster image of his face Sunday night that had been taken down from its outdoor display. A video shows protesters walking, stomping, spitting on and tearing up the poster of Khamenei as it lay on the sidewalk.

    On the other hand: Iranian Protesters REFUSE to Step on US and Israeli Flags at Protest — Walk Around Giant US Flag on the Ground!

    “Jan 12 – Tehran, #Iran
    Protesters tear down a poster of the now dead IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani.
    “Death to dictator!” chants can be heard.
    Ostad Moein Street Protesters tearing & stomping an image of @khamenei_ir. Voice says, “Burn that filth!”

    As Democrats and their fake news media continue to attack President Trump for taking out the world’s worst terrorist Qassem Soleimani, the people of Iran are flooding the streets protesting their “scoundrel” and “murdereing” regime.
    Over 1,500 student protesters were murdered in November standing up against Khamenei and his minions.
    This will shock Democrats but on Saturday THOUSANDS of brave student activists took to the streets in Iran and chanted, “Soleimani is a murderer! His leader is also a murderer”

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