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Trump backs Iranian anti-government protestors

Iranians protest against the government after a vigil held for the victims of the airplane of Ukrainian International Airlines that crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport turned into an anti-government protest outside Amirkabir University in Tehran, Iran on January 11, 2020. [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]
Iranians protest against the government in Tehran, Iran on January 11 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

US President Donald Trump threw his support Saturday behind Iranian anti-government protestors after Tehran's unintentional downing of a Ukraine plane, Anadolu Agency reports.

"To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you," Trump said on Twitter.

Protests erupted in Tehran and other cities against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after Iran admitted it "unintentionally" shot down a passenger plane belonging to the Ukraine International Airlines.

According to the New York Times that cited videos, some protestors shouted "Khamenei is a murderer!"

READ: Iran to send black box of Ukrainian plane to France

"We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage," said Trump.

He also tweeted the message in Farsi.

In a separate tweet shortly after appealing to anti-government protestors, Trump urged Tehran to let human rights groups monitor demonstrations, saying the world is watching the protests.

"The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people. There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching," Trump wrote.

All 176 people, including 57 Canadians, on board the plane were killed in the accident that took place just after takeoff Wednesday from Tehran.

Of the passengers, 138 were flying from Tehran to Ukraine's capital of Kiev, then were to board connecting flights to Canada.

A few hours before the crash, Iran fired missiles at bases in Iraq where US and coalition troops were stationed. The attack was revenge for the US's killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

READ: Iran commander warns of 'harsher revenge', Iraq's PMF vows retaliation against US

Iranian officials said its military was on high alert in case of American retaliation and it led to believing the doomed plane was an enemy aircraft.

Flight PS752 took off and flew close to a "sensitive military spot" and the plane was brought down due to "human error."

"Human error at a time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.

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