Iran has acknowledged that its forces “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people on board, after insisting that the deadly crash was caused by mechanical failure.
The military statement was made on Saturday morning, Jan. 11, via State TV, with “human error” being blamed for the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
A state-run military statement said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after heading to the Revolutionary Guard’s “sensitive military center.” The military was at its “highest level of readiness,” it said, amid heightened tensions with the United States.
“In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the military said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote, “A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of the internal investigation by armed forces: human error at the 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.”
The plane was shot down early Wednesday, hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq.
Iran initially denied responsibility for the plane crash, which it sought to blame on a mechanical problem with the jet, a Boeing 737-800.
“Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumors are illogical,” The Civil Aviation Organization of Islamic Republic of Iran head Ali Abedzadeh said according to Reuters.
It made the admission two days after the U.S., Canadian, and British governments blamed the crash on an Iranian missile, citing their intelligence agencies.
A U.S. spy satellite detected the firing of two SA-15 surface-to-air missiles, a person familiar with the intelligence said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
A Department of Defense official has confirmed the Iranian military mistakenly shot down Ukraine flight 752 while deploying anti-aircraft missiles on Jan. 8.
The commercial plane had just taken off from the capitol’s Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport when some of the dozen or so Russian made ballistic missiles struck the aircraft and killed all 176 people on board.
The official claimed a Russian-made SA15 missile, which is part of the Tor surface-to-air missile system, brought a violent end to the flight.
The President Trump had also cast doubt over Iran’s earlier allegation that a mechanical failure caused the disaster.
“It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood,” President Trump said. “Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”