Abb Takk News

Iran’s Supreme Leader Rebukes US in Rare Friday Address

TEHRAN: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has defended the country’s armed forces after it admitted shooting down a passenger plane by mistake.

He said the Revolutionary Guard – the elite unit responsible for the disaster – “maintained the security” of Iran.

Widespread protests and criticism from abroad have put growing pressure on Iran over its handling of the incident.

But the ayatollah tried to rally support as he led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time since 2012.

The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was travelling to Kyiv from Tehran on 8 January when it crashed shortly after take-off. All 176 passengers on board, including nationals from Iran, Canada, Sweden and the UK, were killed.

The ayatollah called for “national unity” and said Iran’s “enemies” – a reference to Washington and its allies – had used the shooting down of the plane to overshadow the killing of senior Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike.

“Our enemies were as happy about the plane crash as we were sad,” he said. “[They were] happy that they had found something to question the Guard and the armed forces.”