Iran's embassy in China has won overwhelming attention from Chinese netizens, for its posts on the country's retaliatory attacks on US military bases in Iraq, making it an "online celebrity" on social media.
"End of malign US presence in West Asia has begun," announced the Iranian embassy on Weibo, which has been "liked" by netizens more than 500,000 times as of press time.
The embassy's posts came after Iran fired rockets to hit US military bases in Iraq on early Wednesday morning, in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani who was killed in a US drone strike.
"Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) hit air base with surface-to-surface missiles in revenge for the dead major general. If the US retaliates, the US will get the strongest retaliation in return," read another announcement on the embassy's Weibo.
Some netizens said they could understand the country's anger and criticized the US assassination of Soleimani, saying it "went too far." Some called on Iran and the US to remain calm and carry out peaceful talks to ease tensions instead of using force. Others said they were witnessing an historic incident.
Iranian embassy's Weibo account gained the overwhelming attention of Chinese netizens, with over 200,000 followers as of press time, more than five times the number two days ago.
The US embassy posted US President Donald Trump's press conference in response to the Iranian attacks, also in Chinese. Before that, the account had posted content condemning Iranian major general Qasem Sleimani, who had been killed in drone strikes on January 3.
Chinese net users, who had been concerned about the escalating tensions, were amused by the word war between the two embassies.
One post that was liked many times said that "After Americans blocked the Twitter account of Iran's leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran and the US got into a fight in standard Chinese language on a Chinese social media platform."
"A word war is better than a real war at least, and we are glad to offer such a platform," said a Weibo user.
Some net users jokingly suggested the two sides could even have a face-to-face battle in Beijing's Liangmaqiao area where most of the foreign embassies are located.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada's intelligence, as well as intelligence provided by allies, shows that the commercial aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. "This may have been unintentional," Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa. Of the 176 people killed, 63 were Canadian.
He called for a thorough investigation into what caused the crash but would not provide additional details about the evidence and intelligence he cited.
Not long after Trudeau's news conference, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country's intelligence service had come to the same conclusion.
"There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile. This may well have been unintentional. We are working closely with Canada and our international partners and there now needs to be a full, transparent investigation," Johnson said in a statement, "The UK continues to call on all sides urgently to deescalate to reduce tensions in the region," he added.
Video sent to CNN appears to show a missile fired into the Tehran sky early Wednesday morning and striking an object in the sky. Around that time, the Ukranian airliner crashed shortly after takeoff. CNN cannot verify the authenticity of the video.
CNN reported earlier Thursday that the US increasingly believes Iran mistakenly shot down the airliner, according to multiple US officials. The working theory is based on continuing analysis of data from satellites, radar and electronic data collected routinely by US military and intelligence.
Iran denied that the airliner had been hit by a missile.
An initial report issued by Iran's civil aviation organization on Thursday said the three-year-old airliner, which had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday, encountered a technical problem shortly after take-off and started to head toward a nearby airport before it crashed.
Iran has formally invited the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to take part in its investigation into the crash of a Ukrainian jetliner and the U.S. agency has agreed to assign an investigator