Iran has announced that its military “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people onboard.
The statement came on Saturday morning via state TV with “human error” blamed for the downing of the plane. The responsible parties would be held accountable, the statement read on state TV said, with the government offering its apologies to the victims’ families including those of foreign nationals.
The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, wrote: “A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by armed forces: human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster. Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”
A military statement carried by state media said the plane was mistaken for a hostile target after it turned toward a sensitive military centre of the Revolutionary Guard. “The military was at its highest level of readiness,” it said, 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.” It apologised for the disaster and said it would upgrade its systems to prevent such mistakes in the future. The responsible parties would be referred to a judicial department within the military and held accountable, the statement said.
The jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, went down on the outskirts of Tehran during takeoff a few hours after Iran launched a barrage of missiles at US forces in Iraq.
Iran had denied for several days that a missile downed the aircraft. But then the US and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believed Iran shot it down.
The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians.