Iran says it shot down plane by mistake

Updated: Jan 12, 2020, 07:47 IST | Agencies | Tehran

After denying reports suggesting it had caused the crash of a Ukrainian airliner, Iran takes full responsibility

Demonstrators from the Anglo-Iranian communities in the UK attend a vigil opposite the gates of 10 Downing Street in central London. Pics/ AFP
Demonstrators from the Anglo-Iranian communities in the UK attend a vigil opposite the gates of 10 Downing Street in central London. Pics/ AFP

Tehran: Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the aerospace commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), on Saturday said that the IRGC accepts responsibility for the crash of an Ukrainian plane over Iran's airspace. "We accept full responsibility for this act [shooting down the plane], and we will obey and carry out what decisions the authorities will make," Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

The Iranian commander said that since Iran was on "high alert" on Wednesday because of the US threats to 52 spots in the country, the operator of the missile launch site was concerned. He said he "wished" he "were dead" when he learned about the fate of the aircraft. The passenger plane was mistaken for a US cruise missile, Hajizadeh said, adding that the missile operator also encountered some communication problems and "he made a bad decision, triggered the missile and hit the plane."

Hajizadeh denied that some authorities, including those in the Iranian Aviation Organisation, attempted to "hide" the truth. "They made comments based on their own knowledge," he said. Hajizadeh added that the Iranian armed forces and the IRGC did not want to hide the truth either. Soon after Iran's armed forces confirmed that an "unintentional" missile launch by the country's military was the cause of the plane crash, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the relevant authorities to conduct investigations into the "possible shortcomings" leading to the crash.

"I emphatically urge the Iranian armed forces to carry out probes into possible shortcomings and liability over this painful incident," Khamenei said in a statement carried by the state IRIB TV. The Iranian leader asked the authorities to "avoid repetition of such incidents". Reacting to the development, Iran President Hassan
Rouhani in a tweet said:

"The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences." The victims comprised 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, four Britons and three Germans.

No. of people on board

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