Iran: Mass protests call for leaders to resign

Rescue workers at the scene of the crash

Rescue workers at the scene of the crash

Newspapers in Iran have paid tribute to those killed in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane, while heaping pressure on the country's leadership amid growing public anger after the military acknowledged it had accidentally shot down the aircraft.

The crash came hours after Iran launched missiles at bases hosting American forces in Iraq in response to the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike. That move retaliation for a drone strike at Baghdad airport that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

Mehdi Karroubi, a leader of Iran's opposition Green Movement, called on Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to step down over the handling of the downed airliner.

A video circulated on social media shows that the government forces firing live bullet rounds on unarmed protesters at Azadi Square in Tehran.

While both Tehran and Washington have backed off from intensifying their conflict, the leader of Lebanon's heavily armed Hezbollah group called on Sunday for Tehran's allies to begin working to avenge Soleimani's killing.

Iranian authorities said the plane was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which were on high alert as tensions flared with the United States. The government shut down internet access for days, making it hard to gauge the scale of the protests and the subsequent crackdown. Britain's ambassador to Tehran was arrested on Saturday after attending a vigil to honour those killed in the crash.

Iranian media said ambassador Rob Macaire was arrested outside a university and detained for more than an hour before being released. "But when the events related to the plane took place, I saw that opinions changed".

Other leaders of the Trump administration have also spoken out in support of the Iranian protestors.

Most of the passengers were Iranian and Canadian, according to the Ukrainian government.

He said a missile operator had acted independently and alone, mistaking the plane for a "cruise missile". Initially, the government had claimed that a technical fault had caused the crash, until it emerged that it had been shot down after it flew close to a sensitive military site, where personnel say they mistook it for a U.S. weapon. "Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!".

"The arrest of our ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of global law", Raab said in a statement. "I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting", he tweeted. "It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that it entails, or take measures to reduce tensions and take a diplomatic path forward".

Rouhani, who spoke with Trudeau over the phone Saturday, posted on Twitter that an Iranian military investigation concluded "missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash".

They insisted that such reports were part of a campaign of "psychological warfare" against Iran being led by the United States.

They will also pay attention to how the victims of the air crash are treated by the Iranian elite. Iranians on social media asked why officials were busy fending off criticism from overseas rather than sympathising with grieving families.

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