Iran issues more visas to Canadian team probing plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday Jan. 8 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Sean Kilpatrick

Videos showed demonstrators fleeing from tear gas and in one case a woman bleeding from the leg - a wound that protesters said was caused by live ammunition.

Demonstrations in Iran, some met by a violent crackdown, are the latest twist in one of the most serious escalations between Washington and Tehran since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

After days of denials, Iran's government admitted Saturday that its armed forces had fired the missile that took down the plane, killing all 176 on board.

Foreign ministers of the five countries which citizens died in the crash of a Ukraine International Airlines plane in Iran on January 8 will meet in London soon, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko has stated.

Riot police in black uniforms and helmets gathered earlier on Sunday in Vali-e Asr Square, at Tehran University and at other landmarks.

Protesters were also filmed on Sunday chanting "Death to the dictator", referring to Khameini.

Officials and state media issued apologies for failing to report accurately on the crash.

Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi denied that his officers opened fire, telling local media: "Police treated people who had gathered with patience and tolerance".

At home, Trudeau said he had directed the Canadian government to do everything possible to help the families and had set up special teams to ensure they had the support they need to arrange for funerals and to get their loves ones remains back to Canada. "The Iranian government is at a cross-roads moment".

Trump wrote on Twitter late on January 12 that National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien had "suggested today that sanctions protests have Iran "choked off", will force them to negotiate".

Iranian security forces have cracked down hard on demonstrations and killed at least 200 protesters during unrest over cuts to fuel subsidies across Iran in November, according to rights groups.

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The spokesman said all details provided by officials before Saturday's revelation had been based on the information they had. It denies seeking nuclear arms. The Trump administration has put the death toll from those demonstrations much higher - it says some 1,500 people were killed by security forces.

Mr Rouhani noted that the disaster occurred at a time of heightened tensions in the region after a USA drone strike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan 3.

One of the central questions is why Iran did not shut down the airspace around Tehran given the tensions created by Iran's missile attack on the Iraqi bases earlier in the day, the TSB's director of investigations, Natacha Van Themsche, said during the press briefing.

The captain of the national men's volleyball team, Said Marouf, wrote on Instagram about "oppression" in Iran.

Protesters' slogans on Sunday were markedly aimed at Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard which under global pressure had to accept responsibility for downing the Ukrainian airliner but blamed it on "human error".

Iran's president said it was a "disastrous mistake" and apologised.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the aerospace division of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, told state TV his unit accepted "full responsibility" for shooting down the aircraft.

Other memorials were held across the country. Trudeau told reporters that Rouhani had committed to working with Canadian investigators.

The Transportation Safety Board provided an update on its work Monday afternoon, saying that two investigators are en-route to Iran.

The British foreign secretary Dominic Raab called the move a violation of global law: "The Iranian government is at a cross-roads moment".

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