A group of Iranian protesters demanded Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei step down on Saturday after Tehran said that its military had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 people on board.
“Commander-in-chief (Khamenei) resign, resign,” videos posted on Twitter showed hundreds of people chanting, in front of Tehran’s Amir Kabir university. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video footage.
Iran’s admission that it shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 aboard, has provoked international outrage and triggered growing protests against Iranian authorities in Tehran and other cities including one in which Britain’s ambassador was detained.
In what President Hassan Rouhani called a “disastrous mistake”, Iran said on Saturday that a missile fired in error on Wednesday by its air defenses while on alert after Iranian missile strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq brought down the plane. Iran had denied for days after the crash that it had shot down the airliner.
Even as top Iranian officials and the military issued apologies, protests against authorities spread across Iran including in the capital Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan, Hamedan and Orumiyeh. US President Donald Trump, who has said he does not seek “regime change” in Iran, took to Twitter to express his support for the demonstrators, writing, “We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.”