Iran Announces Arrests over Ukraine Airliner Shootdown
Gholamhossein Esmaili, spokesman for Iran’s judiciary branch, says that arrests are being made for last Wednesday’s downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet just after takeoff from Tehran’s international airport. Esmaili did not say how many arrests had been made and did not mention the charges involved. At least two Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles were fired at the Ukrainian International Airlines 737, apparently by members of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), killing all 176 people on board. The downing came just hours after the IRGC launched a swarm of ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq hosting US and other foreign troops, and official explanations – which came after three days of outright denials – mentioned expectations of a possible counter-attack, including by US aircraft. As most of the victims were Iranians or dual nationals, citizens of the Islamic Republic are enraged, and students have been holding anti-government demonstrations, with some protesters calling for the resignation of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.