A number of Iranian TV hosts and other public personalities have denounced the regime in the wake of Iran’s missile strike on a Ukrainian passenger jet that killed 176 people after the military mistook the jet for an enemy target.
“Apologies for lying to you for 13 years,” state TV host of “Good Morning Iran” Gelareh Jabbari posted on Instagram last Monday. “It was very hard for me to believe our people have been killed, forgive me for believing this late.”
The post, which was seen by NBC News, has since been deleted.
Taraneh Alidoosti, one of Iran’s most popular actors and a star of the Oscar-winning 2016 movie The Salesman, also criticized the regime in a post to her 5.8 million Instagram followers.
“We are not citizens, we are captives, millions of captives,” Alidoosti wrote. That post has also been deleted.
“The Islamic Republic is facing the worst legitimacy crisis in its 40-year history, and the pressures are mounting from every angle,” Afshin Shahi, associate professor of Middle East politics at Bradford University, England, told NBC. “The gap between the state and society has widened to an extreme extent.”
Iran admitted to accidentally shooting down the plane after several days of official denials. U.S., Canadian and European intelligence had already indicated the plane was shot down in a missile strike.
Several hours earlier, Iran launched 15 ballistic missiles at U.S. positions in Iraq, in retaliation for the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. The Iranian military later said the strikes were not intended to kill U.S. troops.
However, the Pentagon later acknowledged that 11 Americans were injured in the strikes, and were being treated for concussive symptoms.