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Massive Protests Against Iranian Regime Continue for Third Day

Protesters have continued to demonstrate after the Iranian government admitted that it shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane on January 8, killing all 176 people on board.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Iran for the third consecutive day to protest the regime, calling for accountability after a passenger plane was shot down by Iran. 

Protesters have continued to demonstrate after the Iranian government admitted days later that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane on January 8, killing all 176 passengers. The government said it thought the plane was an incoming cruise missile.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” offering “thoughts and prayers” to grieving families. He also said officials would “prosecute the perpetrators of this unforgivable mistake” and “address the weaknesses of the country’s defense systems to make sure such a disaster is never repeated.”

Following the government’s admission on January 11, mourners and protesters gathered across Iran calling for the resignation of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose regime has lasted 3 decades. 

Some protesters chanted “Death to dictator,” in the country’s capital Tehran.

Iranian police have used tear gas on protesters, and a video posted to social media on January 12 shows a woman in Tehran bleeding from her leg. People around her were saying the woman had been shot. 

On January 13, the head of Tehran’s police denied that officers shot at demonstrators. As of Monday, “heavy security presence” reportedly remains in place in Tehran, including riot police.  

In November 2019, clashes between demonstrators and police resulted in the deaths of more than 300 people during protests against cuts to fuel subsidies. 

The 2020 protests follow the U.S. killing of Iran’s top military general, Qasem Soleimani, which was followed by retaliatory missile strikes by Iran on Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, and, thereafter, the shooting down of the Ukraine International Airlines flight.

Iran had initially denied accountability for the plane crash, blaming it on mechanical errors.