Top Guards commander briefs Iran parliament

Top Guards commander briefs Iran parliament on Soleimani killing, tragic plane downing
3 min read
12 January, 2020
Iran's Major General Hossein Salami addressed the members of the Majles in a closed session on Sunday, after an eventful and tragic week in the Islamic Republic.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards have had an eventful week [Getty]
Iran's Revolutionary Guards chief briefed parliament on Sunday over the killing of a top general by the US, Tehran's retaliation and the subsequent downing of an airliner, ISNA news agency said.

Major General Hossein Salami addressed the members of the Majles in a closed session, the semi-official news agency reported.

Salami had been due to explain the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Guards' foreign operations arm, in a January 3 US drone strike in Baghdad, ISNA reported as the session got underway.

The Guards chief had been expected to speak about Iran's retaliation to the killing of the general on Wednesday when it fired a volley of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraqi military bases, it said.

ISNA said Salami was also expected to address members of the parliament about the accidental downing of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737, which killed all 176 people on board.

Those killed in the air disaster were mainly Iranians and Canadians, including dual nationals. Many were students.

After two days of rejecting increasing speculation and allegations by Western officials that its own troops had downed the plane with a surface-to-air missile, an Iranian Republican Guards Corps commander earlier on Saturday admitted a missile operator had fired upon the passenger jet in error, hours after the missiles were fired at Iraq.

Read more: Texts, selfies, and fear of war: The heartbreaking final moments of Iran's plane crash victims

The Islamic republic's armed forces said its air defences had been at a heightened state of alert at the time. The operator had mistaken the Boeing 737 for a "cruise missile" and only had ten seconds to decide whether or not to open fire, Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said in a televised address on Saturday.

Following Sunday's session, parliament speaker Ali Larijani asked the Majles' security and foreign policy commission to examine the "grave incident" and how to prevent such disasters from occurring again.

Meanwhile, police dispersed students at Tehran's Amir Kabir University on Saturday evening after their commemoration for those killed in the disaster turned into an angry anti-government demonstration, Fars news agency reported.

The students chanted slogans denouncing "liars" and demanded the resignation and prosecution of those responsible for downing the plane and allegedly covering up the accidental incident.

On Sunday, newspapers in Iran paid tribute to those killed in the tragedy, many of them with black front pages.

"Apologise, resign," said the main headline of the reformist Etemad daily.

"Unbelievable," read the front-page banner of Arman-e Meli, another reformist newspaper.

"Unforgivable," said government newspaper Iran, which published all the names of those who died in the air disaster on the image of black plane tail.

Kayhan, a hardline daily, led on supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's "strict orders" to follow up on the "painful incident of the plane crash".

"Deep apology for painful mistake," said the front page of Javan, which is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered his armed forces to address "shortcomings" so that such a disaster does not happen again.

There have been international calls for Iran to carry out a full, independent and transparent investigation into the crash.

Late on Saturday, Ukraine said it would be offering more than $8,000 in financial compensation to the families of its citizens who were killed in the catastrophic plane crash.

Each family will receive the equivalent of $8,300 from the state, the Ukrainian Cabinet said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address on Saturday that his government will also push Iran to provide separate compensation to the victims' families.

He had just spoken by phone to Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, and said Tehran promised to prosecute those responsible for the incident.

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