Days after Iran dismissed accusations that it is responsible for shooting down a Ukraine International Airlines flight — carrying 176 people on board — amid heightened tension with the US in the region, on Saturday, Tehran finally admitted to doing it “unintentionally.”
A statement carried by Iran’s state media according to The Associated Press said the commercial plane departing Tehran to Kiev was “mistaken as a hostile target,” prompting them to shoot it down, just a few hours after Iran fired dozens of ballistic missiles targeted at American bases in Iraq.
The Iranian military statement said the Ukraine International Airlines flight that crashed on Wednesday approached a “sensitive military center,” raising suspicion on the plane. Iran explained that its troops were on their “highest level of readiness” at that time.
“In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the statement said, as it issued an apology and a commitment to upgrade its systems to deter similar tragedies in the future.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani tweeted separately that a “human error” caused the “horrific crash,” as he described the event a “great tragedy & unforgivable mistake.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.
My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences. https://t.co/4dkePxupzm
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 11, 2020
Canada’s Version of Events
The Iranian regime repeatedly denied responsibility for the crash, even though Canada — whose 57 citizens were killed in the crash — announced on Thursday that the Ukrainian airline was likely brought down by an Iranian missile.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said, noting that “it may well have been unintentional.”
Meanwhile, in a slightly different tone, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, admitted “human error” caused the shutting down of the commercial airline, but also blamed “US adventurism” for the strike.
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.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 11, 2020
Ahead of Iran’s admission, several Democrats in the United States have blamed President Trump for causing the crash of the Ukrainian airline. His airstrike near a Baghdad airport killed top Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani, who President Trump recently said was planning to blow up four US embassies. But Democrats (and Zarif) claim that attack sparked the chain of events that led to the fatal crash.