Iran admits downing Ukrainian airliner: All the latest updates

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Protests in Iran have added pressure on the country’s leaders after they admitted that the armed forces mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, following prior denials.

Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 bound for Kiev, Ukraine, crashed minutes after take-off from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

It happened just hours after Iran launched missile attacks on US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.


Here are the latest updates as of Monday, January 13:

Macron: France, Russia, want to safeguard nuclear deal

France and Russia have a shared desire to safeguard Iran’s nuclear deal, French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement following a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Leaders of Britain, France and Germany on Sunday called on Iran to return to full compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and refrain from further violence.

Iranians should be allowed to ‘safely grieve’: Rights group

Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, said Iranians “should be allowed to safely grieve and demand accountability” after he described as “successive national traumas in a short time period”.

“Iranians shouldn’t have to risk their lives to exercise their constitutional right to peaceful assembly.”

Tehran police deny firing at protesters

Police in the Iranian capital did not fire on protesters and officers have been under orders to show restraint, Tehran’s police chief said in a statement carried by the state broadcaster’s website.

Videos posted on social media late on Sunday recorded gunshots fired in the vicinity of protests. The footage could not be independently verified. 

“At protests, police absolutely did not shoot because the capital’s police officers have been given orders to show restraint,” Hossein Rahimi, head of the Tehran police, said.

Soleimani assassination: Conflicting messages on attack evidence (2:04)

No proof Iran was plotting attacks against US embassies: Pentagon chief

Mark Esper, the US defence secretary, said he did not see specific evidence from intelligence officials that Iran was planning to attack four US embassies, an assertion made by US President Donald Trump in justifying the killing of Soleimani. 

While Esper said he agreed with Trump that additional attacks against US embassies were likely, he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Trump’s remarks to Fox News were not based on specific evidence on an attack on four embassies.

“What the president said was that there probably could be additional attacks against embassies. I shared that view,” Esper said. “The president didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence.”

Second day of Iran protests over downing of plane

Protests erupted across Iran for a second day on Sunday, piling pressure on the leadership after the military admitted it had mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian airliner.

“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” a group of protesters outside a university in Tehran chanted, according to video clips posted on Twitter.

Posts showed other demonstrators outside a second university and a group of protesters marching to Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square. The videos also showed protests in other cities.

Go here to earlier updates.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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