The Iranian government in an apparent move to evade and possibly quell growing backlash after it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 people on board has said that its enemies are using the incident to weaken its government.
Speaking in his first Friday sermon delivery since 2012, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) over its action.
Khamenei however described the downing of the plane as a “bitter” tragedy and also claimed that “Iran’s enemies” used the crash and the military’s admission to “weaken” the IRGC.
“The plane crash was a bitter accident, it burned through our heart,” Khamenei said.
“But some tried to … portray it in a way to forget the great martyrdom and sacrifice” of Soleimani, he added, referring to the slain head of the IRGC’s foreign operations arm.
“Our enemies were as happy about the plane crash as we were sad … happy that they found something to question the Guard, the armed forces, the system,” he added.
Khamenei’s comments drew a quick response from US President Donald Trump, who on Friday evening replied the Iranian leader when he wrote thus on Twitter; “He should be very careful with his words.”
Three days ago, the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, had warned foreign powers to withdraw their armed forces from the Middle East or face grave danger if they choose to remain in the region.
“Today, the American soldier is in danger, tomorrow the European soldier could be in danger,” Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks on Wednesday, without elaborating.
The Iranian president’s remarks come after the United Kingdom, France and Germany challenged Tehran over breaking limits of nuclear deal.
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