January 11, 2020.
Iran today admitted that it had unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet on Wednesday, in an about-turn after earlier denying it.
President Hassan Rouhani said a military investigation into the tragedy, which killed all 176 people on board had found missiles fired due to human error.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences and ordered the armed forces to address shortcomings so that such a disaster is not repeated.
The ill-fated Boeing 737 bound for Kiev crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport before dawn.
It happened hours after had Iran launched missiles at bases hosting American forces in Iraq in response to the killing of Qasem Soleimani, one of Iran’s top generals.
Brigadier-General Amirali Hajizadeh said the missile operator acted independently when he shot down the plane after mistaking it for a cruise missile.
“He had 10 seconds to decide. He could have decided to strike or not to strike and under such circumstances he took the wrong decision.
“It was a short-range missile that exploded next to the plane.”
A video footage had emerged showing the plane being hit by a fast-moving object before it crashed.
Ukraine and Canada called for accountability after Iran’s admission.
Rouhani said Iran had been on high alert for possible US attacks after the killing of Soleimani.
“Iran is very much saddened by this catastrophic mistake and I, on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran, express my deep condolences to the families of victims of this painful catastrophe,” the Iranian president said.
The passengers of flight PS752 were Iranians, Canadians, Ukrainians, Afghans, Britons and Swedes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded Iran punish those responsible and pay compensation.
“We expect Iran… to bring the guilty to the courts,” he said on Facebook and his office said he would speak by phone with Rouhani.
The crash is Iran’s worst civil aviation disaster since 1988, when a US warship shot down an Iran Air plane over the Gulf, killing all 290 people on board.