Protests erupt across Iran demanding leaders quit after Ukraine plane downing

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Protests erupted across Iran for a second day on Sunday, piling pressure on the leadership after the Iranian regime announced that its military had mistakenly brought down a Ukrainian plane on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard.

Clashes were reported between protesters and security forces in the Iranian capital Tehran, while scores of protesters chanted slogans against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards.

Protests spread to the cities of Mashhad and Esfahan with protesters chanting “Death to the dictator.”

The semi-official ILNA news agency said police moved to disperse the protesters, who it said numbered as many as 3,000.

Videos posted online showed demonstrators running from police who used batons and teargas.

There were casualties among the demonstrators after Iranian security forces opened fire on them in Tehran.

US President Donald Trump warned Iran on Sunday against killing protesters as his defense secretary left the door open to talks with Tehran without preconditions.

State-affiliated media had reported protests on Saturday night shortly after the Iranian military said it had brought down the Ukrainian plane and apologized.

“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” protesters who had gathered in the street outside a university in Tehran chanted. They also gathered in other cities.

IRGC forces threatened protesters in response to the new wave of anti-regime demonstrations, according to Iran International. They also reported that Ali Shirazi, a representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, described the protests as a US and Israeli plot.

The latest upsurge in anger adds to challenges facing the authorities, which launched a bloody crackdown in November to quell protests. The leadership is also struggling to keep the crippled economy afloat under rigorous US sanctions.

(with Reuters)

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