‘Disastrous Mistake’: Iran Admits It Shot Down Ukrainian Plane

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TEHRAN – Iran has an­nounced that its military “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 on board.

The statement on Satur­day morning blames “human error” for the incident, add­ing that the military mistook Flight 752 for a “hostile target”.

Press TV also quoted Iran’s General Staff of the Armed Forces as saying that the plane had flown close to a “sensitive military site”.

The military said it was at its “highest level of readiness” amid the heightened tensions with the United States.

“In such a condition, be­cause of human error and in a unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the military said. It apologised and said it would upgrade its systems to prevent future tragedies.

In a statement posted on social media, Iranian Presi­dent Hassan Rouhani wrote that the country “deeply re­grets this disastrous mistake”.

“My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning fami­lies. I offer my sincerest con­dolences,” he said, adding that “investigations continue to identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgiv­able mistake”.

Iran had denied for sever­al days that a missile downed the aircraft. But then the US and Canada, citing intelli­gence, said they believe Iran shot down the aircraft.

On Friday, Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s civil aviation authority, said it was impos­sible due to close coordination between Iran’s air defence and the civil aviation department.

“What is obvious for us, and what we can say with cer­tainty, is that no missile hit the plane,” Abedzadeh told re­porters in Tehran.

The jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukraine Interna­tional Airlines, went down on the outskirts of Tehran during takeoff just hours after Iran launched a barrage of missiles at US forces in Iraq.

Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig, reporting from Tehran, said questions were now being raised as to why Iranian au­thorities kept the country’s air space open during a mili­tary operation.

“There’s a lot of explain­ing to do by Iranian authori­ties. People want to know why and how it happened.”

In a social media post, Iranian Foreign Minister Mo­hammad JavadZarif said that “human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to the disaster”.

“Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims and to other affect­ed nations.”

The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from sever­al countries, including 82 Irani­ans, 57 Canadians and 11 Ukrai­nians, when it was shot down.

“This is the right step for the Iranian government to ad­mit responsibility and it gives people a step toward closure with this admission,” said Pay­manParseyan, a prominent Iranian-Canadian in western Canada who lost a number of friends in the crash.

“I think the investigation would have disclosed it whether they admitted it or not. This will give them an opportunity to save face,” he told AP news agency.

 


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