Top Iran Guard briefs par­lia­ment over downed Ukraine plane af­ter protest

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Tehran, Iran - Iran’s top Guards com­man­der briefed par­lia­ment on Sun­day, a day af­ter the armed forces said a Ukrainian air­liner was shot down in er­ror in an ad­mis­sion that sparked an an­gry demon­stra­tion.

His closed-ses­sion tes­ti­mony comes af­ter the tem­po­rary ar­rest on Satur­day of Bri­tain’s Am­bas­sador to Tehran, Rob Ma­caire, shortly af­ter he left a vigil for the air dis­as­ter vic­tims that turned into a protest.

On the day af­ter the rally at Tehran’s Amirk­abir Univer­sity, ten­sions ap­peared to be mount­ing again on the streets of the cap­i­tal, with a heavy po­lice pres­ence no­tably around the iconic Azadi Square south of the cen­tre.

Riot po­lice armed with wa­ter can­non and ba­tons were seen at Amirk­abir Univer­sity, Sharif and Tehran uni­ver­si­ties as well as En­qe­lab Square. Around 50 Basij mili­ti­a­men bran­dish­ing paint­ball guns, po­ten­tially to mark pro­test­ers to au­thor­i­ties, were also seen near Amirk­abir.

The mil­i­tary ac­knowl­edged on Satur­day that the Ukraine In­ter­na­tional Air­lines plane was mis­tak­enly shot down on Wed­nes­day, killing all 176 peo­ple aboard, af­ter deny­ing for days Western claims it was downed by a mis­sile.

The ma­jor­ity of those on the Boe­ing 737, which slammed into a field shortly af­ter take-off from Tehran, were Ira­ni­ans and

Cana­di­ans, and many were stu­dents.

World lead­ers wel­comed Iran’s ad­mis­sion, but Canada’s Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and oth­ers have also called for a full and trans­par­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Kiev-bound plane was shot down at a time when Iran’s armed forces were on a height­ened state of alert af­ter launch­ing a vol­ley of mis­siles at US troops sta­tioned in Iraqi mil­i­tary bases.

Iran had vowed to ex­act ‘se­vere re­venge’ for the Jan­uary 3 US drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Revo­lu­tion­ary Guards’ for­eign op­er­a­tions arm.

The Guards’ top com­man­der, Ma­jor Gen­eral Hos­sein Salami, briefed par­lia­ment about the gen­eral’s killing, Iran’s re­tal­i­a­tion and the down­ing of the air­liner, semi-of­fi­cial news agency ISNA said.

At the end of the ses­sion, speaker Ali Lar­i­jani asked the Ma­jles’ se­cu­rity and for­eign pol­icy com­mis­sion to ex­am­ine the air dis­as­ter and how to pre­vent such in­ci­dents from oc­cur­ring again, ISNA said.

On Satur­day, Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani said a mil­i­tary probe into the tragedy had found ‘mis­siles fired due to hu­man er­ror’ brought down the Boe­ing 737. The Guards’ aero­space com­man­der Gen­eral Ami­rali Ha­jizadeh ac­cepted full re­spon­si­bil­ity.

In the evening, a memo­rial at Tehran’s Amirk­abir Univer­sity in hon­our of those killed turned into a demon­stra­tion that, cor­re­spon­dents said, was at­tended by hun­dreds of stu­dents.

They shouted ‘death to liars’ and de­manded the res­ig­na­tion and pros­e­cu­tion of those re­spon­si­ble for down­ing the plane.

Fars news agency said po­lice ‘dis­persed’ them as they left the univer­sity and blocked streets, caus­ing a traf­fic jam.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump warned Iran against crack­ing down. ‘There can not be an­other mas­sacre of peace­ful pro­test­ers, nor an In­ter­net shutdown’.

(AFP)

Stu­dents demon­strate in front of the Amirk­abir Univer­sity, in Tehran on Satur­day

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