Iran says its military ‘unintentionally’ shot down Ukrainian aircraft

Rescuers work at the air crash site of a Boeing 737 Ukrainian passenger plane in Parand district, southern Tehran, Iran, on Jan. 8, 2020. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua/IANS)

Tehran: A Ukrainian passenger plane which crashed outside Tehran earlier this week had flown close to a sensitive military site and was brought down due to human error, a top military official said on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS75 crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran, killing all the 176 people on board.

The Iranian military’s statement said the plane “took the flying posture and altitude of an enemy target” as it came close to an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps base. “Under these circumstances, because of human error,” the plane “came under fire.”

The statement said that the person responsible for shooting down the plane would face legal consequences. The military will undertake “major reform in operations of all armed forces” to make sure that such an error never takes place again.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet: “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.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted: “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.”