On Saturday, after three days of denying any connection to the downing of a Ukranian jetliner, Iran has admitted that its forces unintentionally downed the jetliner, The admission has only added fuel to the fury growing within the country.
The deadly tragedy has become a political crisis. The admission has taken the spotlight off of the country’s issues with the United States.
From the capital of Kyiv, Ukrainian officials harshly criticized Iran’s actions. Officials suggested that Iran would never have admitted to downing the plane had investigators not discovered pieces of a missile among the wreckage of the plan. All 176 passengers aboard the plane were killed.
Late Friday into Saturday protests broke out in Tehran as shocked citizens found another reason to not trust Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. During the protests shouts of “Khamenei is a murderer!” echoed through the streets. Police used riot gear and tear gas to try and break up the violent protesters.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, publicly stated that his country would demand a “full admission of guilt” by Tehran.
At first, Iran’s military stated that the flight’s crew had taken a “sharp, unexpected turn” that brought it too close to a “sensitive military base.” Ukraine quickly disputed that claim.
Several hours later an Iranian commander, who had earlier accepted responsibility for the tragedy, admitted that Ukraine was right.
“The plane was flying in its normal direction without any error and everybody was doing their job correctly,” Commander, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh stated.“If there was a mistake, it was made by one of our members.”
“Everything was done absolutely inappropriately,” Oleksiy Danilov, a Ukrainian security official told The New York Times,
Iran citizens gathered in the square of Tehran chanting “Death to liars!” and “Death to the dictator!”
Just days ago, Iranians were united in their grief and rage over the Trump administration assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. Now their anger is focused once again on their own government.
President Zelensky’s office posted on Facebook photos of the shrapnel damage on the plane.
“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,” Zelensky said in a Facebook post. “We hope that the investigation will continue without artificial delays and obstacles.”