Iran announced on Saturday that its army “unintentionally shot down” a Ukrainian passenger plane, which killed 176 people traveling in it after the government had repeatedly rejected Western accusations that it was responsible.
The aircraft was shot down on Wednesday early hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack at two bases in Iraq where there was US military stationed, in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in an attack by a US drone in Baghdad. No one was injured in the attack on the bases, according to sources.
In a statement issued by the state press, the army said the jet was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned towards a ” military center” of the Revolutionary Guard. The army was at its “highest level of alertness,” he said, in a few days of intense tensions with the United States.
“Under such conditions, due to a human error and involuntarily, the projectile reached the plane”, it was revealed in that announcement.
He apologized for the disaster and said he would improve his systems to prevent such “mistakes” from happening in the future.
He also said that those responsible for the attack on the passenger jet would be prosecuted.
The plane, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, fell on the outskirts of Tehran shortly after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport.
Great controversy over the plane that crashed in Iran
176 people died when a Boeing 737 fell near Tehran. Canada and the United Kingdom denounced that the Ukrainian aircraft was shot down by an Iranian missile.
Iran had denied for several days that a missile was the cause of the incident. But the United States and Canada, based on intelligence information, said they believed Tehran had shot down the aircraft.
The plane, which was headed to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, carried 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 57 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to authorities.
Hours earlier, the Canadian government reduced its number of deceased countrymen, which it originally said were 63.