Iran has admitted that it was responsible for shooting down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger jet this week. Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed just outside Tehran on Wednesday, 8 January 2020 and despite strong indications the aircraft was downed by an Iranian missile, the Iranian Government had maintained the crash was due to mechanical issues.
The New York Times is reporting that the Iranian Government has admitted that flight PS752 was shot down accidentally by an Iranian missile after the aircraft took an unexpected turn towards a military base. Iran says it was a case of human error.
The admission follows widespread belief a missile was responsible for the crash
The admission follows several Governments saying that they had evidence the aircraft was downed by a missile. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau said on Thursday;
“We have evidence from multiple sources – including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface to air missile. This may have been unintentional.”
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo had said it was “likely” the aircraft was shot down by an Iranian missile.
176 people were killed in the crash. Of that number, 138 of the passengers were destined for Canada and 63 of the passengers on board were Canadian citizens. There were also 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British onboard.
According to the report in the New York Times, the statement out of Iran said that flight PS752;
“…. took the flying posture and altitude of an enemy target … under these circumstances, because of human error, the plane came under fire.”
The Iranian statement goes onto say the aircraft flew close to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base.
According to a report on CNN, Iranian defense installations were reporting increased radar activity at the time which heightened sensitivity around these bases. They say the Ukrainian International Airlines flight was at an altitude and “condition” that resembled hostile activity.
Foreign Minister cites “US adventurism”
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, has posted the following message on Twitter;
“A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigations by Armed Forces: Human error at a time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.
“Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to and families of all victims and to other affected nations.”
Iran’s admission comes not just as other Governments publicly point the finger, it comes following video footage emerging that appears to show a missile strike something over Tehran at the time the aircraft was downed, early on Wednesday morning, Tehran time.
Iranian authorities have the two flight data recorders but are reported to be keeping the contents close, as of now not even allowing Ukrainian investigators access to them. Parts of the aircraft have been taken to a hanger for reconstruction and bodies from the scene have gone to forensic labs for DNA testing.
Further details are expected to emerge over the course of the weekend.