Protesters denouncing cleric rule in Iran took to streets on Monday after Tehran admitted that it accidentally shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that killed all 179 people on board. The recent demonstrations in Iran met by a violent crackdown by riot police after protesters shouted "clerics get lost" outside universities in Isfahan and Tehran. Images from the previous two days of protests were posted online that showed wounded people being carried and pools of blood visible on the ground.
In other videos that went viral after the recent protests started on Saturday, protesters can be heard chanting "Death to the dictator" and "Clerics get lost", directing their anger directly at Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian public anger was growing over the days as Iran repeatedly denied any role in the Ukrainian passenger plane crash. The anger turned into protests when Tehran accepted its military's role in the crash. "They killed our elites and replaced them with clerics," Iranian students chanted outside Tehran University.
Ayatollah Khamenei became the Supreme Leader of Iran in 1979 after he overthrew the last monarch of the country, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and replaced his government with the Islamic Republic. Mohammad Reza was supported by the United States and was credited for bringing a lot of social and political reforms, including voting rights for women. The United States and Iran's relation soured after Reza was overthrown by clerics to formulate a new theocratic-republican.
Tensions between the United States and Iran are at an all-time high since Washington killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike on January 3. Washington accused Qassem Soleimani of planning and executing some of the deadliest attacks on US assets in the Middle East. The United States also accused Soleimani orchestrating attacks on the US embassy in Iraq on December 31.
After Soleimani's killing, Tehran fired a dozen missiles on Iraqi military bases hosting US-led coalition forces. After the missile attacks, Iraq issued a statement where it said that the country was subjected to bombardment by 22 missiles, of which 17 fell on Ain al-Asad airbase, hosting US troops, while five on the city of Erbil that all fell on coalition headquarters. The attacks took place between 1:45 am and 2:45 am on January 8, 2020.