TEHRAN: Iranian armed forces on Saturday admitted to “unintentionally” shooting down the Ukrainian airliner that crashed this week blaming it on “human error”.
The plane, which crashed on Wednesday killing all 176 people on board, was mistaken for a “hostile plane” and was hit while enemy threats were at the highest level, according to a press statement published by the official IRNA news agency.
All 176 people on board were killed when the jet crashed, hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of its top general Qasem Soleimani in an American airstrike.
According to the Iranian media, officials said that the plane had flown close to a “sensitive military centre” and was mistaken for a “hostile target”. The statement added that the military was at its “highest state of readiness” amid the US tensions.
It also said it would upgrade its systems to prevent such “mistakes” in the future. The military statement, which was read out on state TV, added that the people responsible would be held accountable, and expressed condolences to the victims’ families.
Following the statement, the country’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted saying that the crash was caused by human error, but ultimately blamed “US adventurism”.
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.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 11, 2020
Zarif also sent condolences to the families of the victims.
“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,” he said.
Separately Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the country’s armed forces to address “shortcomings” after a Ukrainian passenger jet was mistakenly shot down, his office said.
“I emphatically advise the general headquarters (of the armed forces) to follow up on shortcomings” to ensure this kind of error does not happen again, said a statement on his official website, adding he expressed his “sincere condolences” to the families of the deceased.