US President Donald Trump on Monday again defended the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike by dubbing him as the ''no. 1 terrorist ... in the world'' as Tehran witnessed a consecutive third day of protests denouncing the country's Islamic regime.
"We killed Soleimani (Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani), number one terrorist in the world by every account. That person killed a lot of Americans and lot of people, we killed him. When the Democrats try and defend him, it''s a disgrace to our country," the President said at a short press briefing.
Protestors in Iran took to streets for the third day after authorities acknowledged "accidentally" shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane last week that led to serious escalations between the United States and Iran.
Videos from protest sites showed students chanting slogans including "Clerics get lost!" outside universities in the city of Isfahan and in Tehran, where riot police was seen deployed on streets, Al Jazeera reported.
Gunshots rent the air even as police denied opening fire.
Trump, who had raised the stakes last week by ordering the killing in a drone strike of Iran's most powerful military commander, tweeted to Iran's leaders: "Don''t kill your protesters."
Tehran acknowledged shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner by mistake last Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard, hours after it fired at US targets in Iraq to retaliate for the killing on January 3 of General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
Iranian public anger, rumbling for days as Tehran repeatedly denied it was to blame for the plane crash, erupted into protests on Saturday when the military admitted its role.
Dozens of protesters were videographed at sites in Tehran and Isfahan, a major city south of the capital.
"They killed our elites and replaced them with clerics," they chanted outside a Tehran university, referring to Iranian students returning to studies in Canada who were on the plane.
The development also comes at a time when the White House and Trump's legal team are readying for the next phase of the process after nearly a month waiting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to transmit the articles of impeachment.
A person familiar with his activities told CNN that the President was focused both on protests in Iran spurred by the downed Ukrainian jetliner and the looming Senate trial, phoning allies to discuss the upcoming proceedings.