Early Saturday morning, Iran’s military released a statement saying it ‘unintentionally’ shot down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger jet PS752 early Wednesday, killing all 176 people onboard.
The statement said it had done so due to “human error” after the plane flew close to a sensitive site belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards , which made it look like an enemy plane.
Iran officials, previously denied to accidentally shooting down any plane by it’s missile in the capital city, Tehran
It also blamed the “highest level of readiness” resulting from rising tensions with the United States.
“Those responsible would be held accountable”, the statement said.
In an address broadcast by state TV on Saturday (Jan 11), General Amir Ali Hajizadeh says that when he learnt about the downing of the plane, which killed all 176 passengers onboard, “I wish I were dead”.The troops at the anti-aircraft battery mistook the flight for a cruise missile, though the plane was moving at just over 500 kmh, said the general. Cruise missiles travel at faster speeds.
Gen Hajizadeh said the Guard suggested Teheran should close its airspace as its had “prepared ourselves for an all-out conflict” with the US, though officials took no action.
On Wednesday, Iran began firing missiles early morning, in retaliation for the killing of Gen. Qassim Suleimani by the United States in Baghdad. The international airlines rerouted flights away from Iran, and the Federal Aviation Administration barred American carriers from the airspace in the region.
Just two hours after Iran fired missiles at two bases in Iraq housing American forces. Iran media called the crash as consequence of technical default earlier.
The Ukrainian flight was headed to the Canadian city of Toronto. Among the 176 people killed in the crash, most were Iranian and Canadian nationals. Many Iranians said that their anger over the lack of accountability at the highest levels of government had quickly returned.
Iran has promised for full investigation. However, the visuals from the crash site on TV, Thursday showed a mechanical digger helping to clear the debris away. It raised concerns of important evidences been removed.