Speaking to Express.co.uk, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Hossein Abedini, claimed Iranians have been celebrating the death of Qassem Soleimani, chanting “Our enemy is right here” in the streets all over the country. Mr Abedini claimed the so-called General was not seen as a “hero” in the region, despite thousands of people turned up to his funeral in Tehran last week. He said: “This man was not a ‘General’ as some apologists of the regime have tried to call him.
“He was the head of a very notorious terrorist force and he was responsible for hundreds of thousands of killings.
“So nobody really should lament his death. Nobody should mourn the death of a brutal butcher who was responsible for all these killings.
“Iranian people have been chanting in the streets ‘Our enemy is right here’.”
He added: “There have been lots of celebration in the Iranian houses and the Iranian families and mothers who have lost their children just in the recent appraising during which more than 1,500 people, defenceless protesters, were brutally murdered by the hands of the IRGC and the Iranian regime.”
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It comes as Iran’s top diplomat acknowledged Wednesday that Iranians “were lied to” for days, after the Islamic Republic accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner.
The admission came as new surveillance footage purported to show two surface-to-air missiles 20 seconds apart shred the plane and kill all 176 people on board.
The downing of the Ukraine International Airlines flight last week came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US over its unravelling nuclear deal.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for the first time Wednesday threatened Europe by warning its soldiers in the Middle East “could be in danger” over the crisis, as Britain, France and Germany launched a measure that could see United Nations sanctions re-imposed on Tehran.
The crash, and subsequent days of Iranian denials that a missile had downed the plane, has sparked angry protests in a country already on edge as its economy struggles under crushing American sanctions.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran reached a fever pitch two weeks ago with the American drone strike in Baghdad that killed the powerful Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani.
The general had led Iranian proxy forces abroad, including those blamed for deadly roadside bomb attacks on US troops in Iraq.
Iran retaliated with a ballistic missile strike targeting Iraqi military bases housing US forces early last Wednesday, just before Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard shot down the Ukrainian airliner taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.
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Iran, for days afterwards, insisted a technical fault downed the Boeing 737-800.
It was not until Western governments, including Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, went public with their suspicions the plane had been shot down that Tehran admitted it fired on the plane.
Not admitting the plane had been shot down “was for the betterment of our country’s security, because if we had said this, our air defence system would have become crippled and our guys would have had doubted everything,” said General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guard’s aerospace programme, in television footage aired Wednesday.
Gen Hajizadeh only days earlier apologised on state television and said: “I wish I were dead.”