Published: Tue, January 14, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Iran arrests "some" over Ukrainian plane crash: spokesman

Iran arrests

Iran's president called last week's downing of the Ukrainian plane a "disastrous mistake" on Saturday, saying its air defenses were fired in error while on alert after it carried out missile strikes on USA targets in Iraq.

After days of denying blame, Iran acknowledged on Saturday it had shot the plane down during a state of high alert, hours after it had fired missiles at USA targets in Iraq to retaliate for the killing of Iran's most powerful military commander.

"My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families", Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said. He noted that "the entire the world will be watching this court" and vowed that responsible parties would be brought to justice.

He also called the crash an "unforgivable error", pledging that all those involved in the incident will be punished.

The announcement came shortly after President Hassan Rouhani said about the air disaster that "anyone who should be punished must be punished".

"I was in Oman just at the weekend, talking to people in the region and they don't want a military conflict between the West and Iran". After the militia surrounded the U.S. embassy in Baghdad for two days, Trump ordered the strike on General Soleimani.

Protests erupted on Saturday, after Iran admitted firing missiles by mistake at the Ukraine International Airlines jet that crashed near Tehran.

While Rouhani pointed to mistakes and negligence, he also repeated the government's line that the tragedy was ultimately rooted in USA aggression. US President Donald Trump had previously threatened to strike 52 targets within Iran if Tehran targeted US citizens or assets following Soleimani's killing.

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He did not mention the USA or President Donald Trump by name in direct relation to his comments. The United States threatened and took away our beloved people, all of that is correct.

At a televised press conference on Saturday, Trudeau said he told Rouhani the admission was "an important step" but "many more steps must be taken".

Iran says it has arrested an undisclosed number of suspects accused of a role in shooting down a Ukrainian airliner.

He also praised Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Commander Brig-Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh for his "honest" and "bold" acknowledgement that his forces were responsible for the tragedy.

"Once you start to cope with the sorrow a little bit, then came the tragic news that it was downed by a missile, and it was nearly as if she died again", Amirali Alavi said. Iran said it attacked the bases in retaliation for the US killing of an Iranian general days earlier.

The shootdown and the lack of transparency around it has reignited anger in Iran at the country's leadership.

Images of dozens of demonstrators taking to the streets in the capital and other cities including Esfahan were circulating on social media on Sunday morning and activists were calling for mass mourning rallies, raising the possibility of fresh clashes between protesters and security forces.

Iran has struggled to contain the fallout over its handling of the air disaster, after initially dismissing Western claims it was brought down by a missile before admitting it on Saturday. An Iranian film director who'd called for protests in Tehran's Azadi, or Freedom, Square is among those released.

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