Iran has admitted it unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane hours after launching ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops, blaming “human error” for the “great tragedy” that killed all 176 people aboard.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday, 11th January, revealed that an investigation into the Iranian armed forces had concluded that the missiles were launched due to a “human factor error”. He also expressed his “deepest condolences to the families of the deceased” on Twitter.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this catastrophic mistake,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a tweet. “Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably, missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people. Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. #PS752
Ruhani added that investigators are continuing to track down those responsible for this “unforgivable mistake” and bring them to court.
The plane crashed Wednesday hours after an Iranian rocket strike on US bases in Iraq in response to last Friday’s US Air Force strike in Iraq, which killed an Iranian general and nine others.
Shortly before Ruhani’s announcement, the Iranian official news agency said the Boeing 737 was mistakenly considered a “hostile aircraft” because of the highest levels of enemy threat at the time.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter that “human error at the time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster”, citing an initial armed forces investigation into the crash. A military statement said the plane flew close to a sensitive Revolutionary Guards site at a time of the high alert.
Just the day before, Iranian civil aviation authorities denied allegations made by Western leaders that a Ukrainian aircraft had been hit.
In response to Tehran’s announcement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has already demanded that those responsible for hitting the plane are punished.
Meanwhile, CNN broadcaster Frederik Pleitgen in Tehran writes that a crashed Ukrainian aircraft has flown “on a usual route from an airport”.
“I have flown from Imam Khomeini Airport 16 or 17 times and in each of them we flew exactly the same route,” the journalist revealed. Airport data says that on the day of the tragic event, several flights scheduled for this route were canceled.
The Iranian authorities deny that the airplane or the particular flight path was pre-selected – Iranian armed forces have discovered that the passenger plane was flying near a sensitive military center at a height similar to aircraft used in the attacks.
It was previously reported that engine fire caused pilots to lose control of the aircraft and crashed. All 176 people on board were killed.
A Ukrainian plane crash happened hours after Iran fired a ballistic missile at two bases in Iraq, hosted by US troops, in response to the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a US airstrike on Friday at the Baghdad International Airport.
Read Also: Iran Launches Missiles on US Airbase in Iraq