Iran Admits Airliner Shootdown

( – After days of denial, Iran’s government admitted Saturday that bungling troops had fired a missile at a Ukrainian airliner, killing the 176 people, including 82 Iranians on board. The admission has sparked international outrage at Tehran — but it’s also caused a high-level split inside Iran itself.

According to an Iranian spokesman, an operator on a SA-15 missile system belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) mistook the Boeing 737 for a hostile target. The Ukranian plane was on a regular flight path out of Imam Khomeini International Airport when it was fired upon.

Now thousands of Iranians are taking to the streets to protest the shootdown and their government’s lies about it. President Rouhani, head of Iran’s democratically elected government, says he wasn’t told the truth until Saturday. The IRGC, which is loyal to Iran’s parallel and unelected religious government, is complaining that Rouhani’s government isn’t backing them up.

Rouhani has never been a fan of the IRGC, but the tension between them isn’t usually so open — and Rouhani might use this as an excuse to clip the Guards’ wings a little.

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