'Unintentionally' shot down Ukrainian jetliner, admits Iran; Calls it human error
Tehran, Jan 11: Iran has announced that its military "unintentionally" shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people on board. Iranian state TV quoting military officers blamed "human error" for the shootdown.
The responsible parties would be held accountable, the statement read on state TV said. Reportedly, the jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, was mistaken for a hostile aircraft.
"Armed Forces' internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of Ukrainian plane and death of 176 people," said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
"Investigations continue to identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake," he added.
Iran had denied for several days that a missile downed the aircraft. However, citing intelligence the US and Canada had said that they believed Iran shot it down.
US satellites had detected that the launch of two missiles shortly before the plane crashed, followed by evidence of an explosion.
Two officials said Washington believed the downing of the plane was accidental.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said "multiple" intelligence sources indicate that Iran shot down the Boeing airliner. Canada's theory was swiftly backed up by other Western leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said mounting evidence supported an Iranian missile strike, which "may well have been unintentional".
Flight PS752 went down just minutes after takeoff from Tehran airport in the dark on early Wednesday, after Tehran launched ballistic missiles at American military targets in Iraq in retaliation for the January 3 US drone strike in Baghdad that killed a top Iranian general.
The ill-fated plane was carrying 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, as well as the 63 Canadians.