U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted support for the Iranian people, in Farsi and in English, as they took to the streets after their government admitted unintentionally shooting down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people aboard.
"To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran, Trump began on Twitter:
He followed with words of caution for the Iranian government, warning its leaders against cracking down on the protests that erupted.
On Saturday evening, police dispersed students who had converged on Amirkabir University in Tehran to pay tribute to the victims, after some among the hundreds gathered shouted "destructive" slogans, the Fars news agency said.
Earlier, in the first official U.S. statement after Iran's admission, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted on Twitter a video of the protests in Tehran.
"The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude, and brutality of the IRGC under @khamenei_ir's kleptocracy. We stand with the Iranian people who deserve a better future." (Pompeo was using Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's Twitter handle in the tweet.)
The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude, and brutality of the IRGC under @khamenei_ir's kleptocracy. We stand with the Iranian people who deserve a better future. pic.twitter.com/tBOjv9XsIG— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 11, 2020
Even as top Iranian officials and the military issued apologies, protests against authorities spread across Iran, including in Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Hamedan and Orumiyeh.
"There are once again massive protests in Iran against the regime," U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told VOA News on Saturday, “and we stand with the brave Iranian people 100%. Protesters are chanting about the shameful actions of the IRGC and are ripping down posters of [Quds Force commander Qassem] Soleimani put up by the regime. They are saying Soleimani was a murderer and so is Khameini. The protesters are right!"
The new demonstrations followed an Iranian crackdown on street protests that broke out in November against an increase in the price of fuel. Amnesty International has said that crackdown left more than 300 people dead.
According to media reports, internet access was effectively cut off in multiple Iranian provinces ahead of memorials planned a month after the protests.
Agence France-Presse, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.