Anti-government protesters took to the streets of Iran Saturday after Tehran admitted that it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing 176 people.
Thousands gathered outside the gates of Amir Kabir University, near the former US embassy in Tehran, to denounce the plane crash the government blamed on human error and “US adventurism.”
Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed Wednesday after takeoff from Tehran’s airport. The crash came hours after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi military bases housing US troops in retaliation for a drone strike at Baghdad airport that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
In video posted on social media, protesters chanted for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down and for those responsible for downing the plane to be prosecuted. “Death to the dictator,” some chanted.
In one video, demonstrators chanted, “Khamenei have shame. Leave the country.”
A mass vigil commemorating the victims of the doomed flight escalated into an angry demonstration following the government admission, according to Iran’s semiofficial FARS News Agency. University graduates migrating to Canada were among those who perished in the crash.
FARS reported that Iranian police dispersed students who entered and blocked main roads.
Their anger was fueled in large part by the nation’s armed forces claim that it targeted the passenger plane unintentionally. It attributed the crash to radar activity and fear of US action.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families,” President Hassan Rouhani said.
JUST IN: Israel Confirms Its First Case Of Coronavirus
The virus was confirmed in a citizen who flew home from Japan earlier this week after being quarantined on the stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess.
“One of the passengers who returned home from the cruise ship in Japan tested positive in a checkup by the health ministry’s central laboratory,” a ministry statement said.
The statement added that the other dozen Israeli passengers who had flown home had all tested negative.
BREAKING: Two Test Positive For Coronavirus In Iran
Two people in Iran tested positive Wednesday for the deadly new coronavirus, the health ministry said in the Islamic republic’s first cases of the disease.
Kianoush Jahanpour, a ministry spokesman, said the cases were detected in the holy city of Qom, south of the Iranian capital.
“In the past two days, some suspect cases of the new coronavirus were observed in Qom city,” he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
“Teams were dispatched after receiving the reports, and based on the existing protocols the suspect cases were isolated and tested,” said Jahanpour.
“Out of the samples sent, a laboratory tested two of them as positive for coronavirus just minutes ago and some of the other samples were type B influenza.”
The health ministry spokesman said additional tests were being done on the two cases and final results would be announced “as soon as possible”.
The new coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 2,000 people in China and infected more than 74,000. It has spread to at least two dozen countries.
The United Arab Emirates was the first country in the Middle East to report cases of coronavirus last month.
Why Trump Doesn’t Want War With Us — Iran’s President Rouhani
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has stated that he doesn’t believe Trump wants a war with his country as it will ”affect his re-election prospects.”
According to Rouhani, the US’ maximum pressure sanctions against Iran has failed, and the Iranian regime will only renegotiate with the US if crippling sanctions against Iran are removed and the US rejoins the 2015 Iran Nuclear deal negotiated by Obama but exited by Trump in 2018.
The Iranian leader added that war would be harmful to U.S. interests and those of its regional allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as Iran.
“I think the Americans aren’t after war since they know what harm it could do them,” said Rouhani in a news conference.
Rouhani said that Persian Gulf nations like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar stood a lot to lose if conflict between Iran and the U.S. turns to war.
‘Talks could take place if the U.S. were to scrap damaging economic sanctions and reinstate commitments made in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated by the Obama administration between Iran and global powers’, Rouhani said.
Rouhani also said he didn’t care who won the next US elections.
“We will never sit at the negotiating table with a weak position,” Rouhani said.
U.S.-Iranian relations have been strained for a while resulting in the early-January U.S. drone strike ordered by Trump that killed Iran’s general, Qassem Soleimani to which Iran responded with airstrikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops which left scores of soldiers with brain injuries.