#NancyPelosiFakeNews Trends After Speaker Says Iran Protests Against Regime Are 'Largely Students'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has come under fire on social media, accused of downplaying anti-regime protests in Iran which have erupted in response to the downing of a commercial jet carrying 176 people last week.

Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 was shot down by the Iranian military soon after taking off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini international airport. Iranian anti-aircraft troops destroyed the plane after incorrectly identifying it as an enemy military aircraft.

The regime in Tehran initially claimed the plane went down due to technical failure, but foreign intelligence reports eventually forced Iran to admit its troops were to blame. Dozens of Iranians were on board, and angry citizens have taken to the streets to vent their fury and demand justice. Some are even calling for the downfall of the regime.

Pelosi discussed the incident with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week on Sunday. Stephanopoulos asked if she supported the anti-regime protesters and whether it would be a good thing if the regime did indeed fall.

"The protesters are protesting—as I understand it, this brand of protesters—about the fact that that plane went down," Pelosi said. "And many students were on that plane and these are largely students in the street."

Security forces have fired tear gas at crowds of protesters in an effort to subdue marchers. There are also reports that security forces have clashed with demonstrators and possibly even fired live ammunition.

Last year, the regime grappled with anti-government protesters sparked by the rising costs of fuel and other goods.

Security forces are believed to have killed some 1,500 people in suppressing the unrest, according to Iranian interior ministry officials who provided details to Reuters. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also claimed the Iranian regime had killed 1,500 protesters during a January 10 press briefing.

The regime is accused of throttling internet connections across the country to block news or evidence of the killings from getting out to the international community.

"The fact is this: there were protesters in the streets before against the regime," Pelosi said. "After the taking out of [military commander Qassem] Soleimani, there were protesters in the street joined together—as you know—against us, that wasn't good."

After the U.S. assassinated Soleimani, hundreds of thousands of people choked the streets of major Iraqi and Iranian cities as his funeral procession passed through. The Associated Press reported that more than 1 million people turned out in Tehran. Such was the scale of mourning in Soleimani's home city of Kerman that a stampede occurred, killing dozens.

The hashtag #NancyPelosiFakeNews was trending on Monday morning, used by more than 20,000 Twitter accounts. Many tweets accused Pelosi of defending the regime, though she actually criticized Iranian authorities over the plane being shot down. Others took issue with Pelosi's characterization of the current protests as student-dominated.

Students were certainly active over the weekend, gathering at universities in Tehran to denounce the regime. Young people shouted chants including, "They are lying that our enemy is America! Our enemy is right here!" according to CNBC.

Reuters reported that students were also filmed on Monday chanting slogans such as "Clerics get lost!" outside universities in Tehran and the central city of Isfahan.

Flight 752 was shot down soon after Iran launched missile strikes against Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. troops. Iranian anti-aircraft sites were on high alert in case of American retaliation when troops misidentified the commercial airliner as a threat.

Pelosi told Stephanopoulos that the shoot down is "a terrible, terrible tragedy and they should be held accountable for letting commercial flights go at a time that was so dangerous."

"But there are different reasons why people are in the street," she added. "Of course we would love to see the aspirations of the people of Iran realized with a better situation there. But escalating the situation—unless we've exhausted every other remedy."

"There are a lot of bad actors who are doing bad things and threatening bad things to us, we know that, Iran being one of them. But how do we deal with that in a way that calms, rather than escalates?"

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi answers questions during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on January 9, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images/Getty
#NancyPelosiFakeNews Trends After Speaker Says Iran Protests Against Regime Are 'Largely Students' | Politics