UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Iran said on Saturday its army had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing 176 people on board after air defenses were accidentally launched in the midst of intense alert amid the consequences of Iranian missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.
Iran had earlier vehemently denied the plane was shot down, but a senior Revolutionary Guards leader said on Saturday he had informed the authorities of the unintended missile strike on the day it occurred.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Saturday that information should be made public about the accident, while senior officials and leaders have apologized.
But Iranian television has indicated that “Iran’s enemies” may take advantage of to reveal the truth about what happened. This term is usually used to refer to the United States and Israel.
The incident led to an escalation of international pressure on Iran after frictions and exchanges of military strikes with the United States for months. Washington killed a prominent Iranian military commander with a drone in Iraq on January 3, prompting Iran to fire missiles at US targets on Wednesday.
The United States and Canada, which lost 57 citizens on board, said they believed an Iranian missile had shot down the plane, but they said it was probably a mistake.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this catastrophic error … my prayers for the bereaved families,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter on Saturday. I offer my deepest condolences. ” He pledged to bring the perpetrators of this incident to trial.
Experts said that the increasing international interest in this incident made it impossible to hide the effects of the missile strike during any investigation, and that Iran may have felt that the policy of retreating from its position might be better than facing escalating criticism abroad and feelings of sadness and anger inside the country.
Many of the victims are Iranians with dual citizenship.
Angry Iranians asked on Twitter why the plane was allowed to take off in light of escalating tensions in Iran. The plane was shot down while Tehran was on high alert for an American response in the hours after Iranian missiles were fired at US forces at Iraqi bases.
In a rare admission of the error, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards apologized to Ukraine and assumed full responsibility.
Amir Haji Zadeh, a leader in the Revolutionary Guards, said he on Wednesday informed the Iranian authorities of the unintended strike, in a comment that raised questions about why Iran had denied the order for a long time.
And I quoted the official TV as saying, “I wish I would die and not witness such an accident.”
In response to Iran’s announcement on Saturday that it had inadvertently shot the plane down, Ukraine demanded an official apology and compensation. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will work “to ensure a full and thorough investigation” and that he would like the full cooperation of the Iranian authorities.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter that the Armed Forces investigation showed that the Boeing 737-800 crashed due to a “human error during a crisis that arose due to the American recklessness which led to a disaster.”
A military statement said that the crashed plane flew near a sensitive military site of the Revolutionary Guards amid a state of high alert, but Ukraine and the Ukrainian international lines said that the plane did not deviate from its normal course.
Ukraine International Airlines reported that Iran should have closed the airport. The vice president of the company said that the plane had completely followed its course and that the company had not received any indication that the plane was facing a threat, but was allowed to take off.
Experts said the investigation would almost certainly reveal the effects of a missile strike.
“Nothing can be done to conceal this,” said Anthony Brickhouse, an air safety expert at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and former investigator for the US National Transportation Safety Board.
The White House has yet to respond to a request for comment.
Mobile phone footage, posted by Twitter on Iran after the accident, showed the plane fell in a ball of flame.
When Iran rejected the accusations that it had shot down the aircraft, it described it as a “psychological war.”
Iranians expressed their grief on social media and said that the Iranian authorities cared a lot about responding to the criticisms rather than expressing their sympathy to the families of the victims.
A US official said that the data showed that the plane flew for two minutes after taking off from Tehran, then flame two surface-to-air missiles, then an explosion occurred and heat data showed the plane igniting during its crash. And US military satellites were able to monitor the infrared emissions from the heat.
The accident recalls a catastrophe in 1988, when an American warship shot down an Iranian plane, killing 290 people. While Washington said it was a tragic accident, Tehran accused it of deliberately shooting down the plane.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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