- Iranian President Hassan Rohani said his country "deeply regrets" the incident, which it called "a great tragedy" and an "unforgivable mistake."
- "Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
- Incidents involving missiles and commercial aircraft over conflict areas are not uncommon.
Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff admitted on Saturday that, by “human error,” a missile launched by its army shot down the Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 plane with 176 people aboard. In a statement, the Iranian government said the aircraft was wrongly identified as a “hostile aircraft,” and hit it at the time the enemy threat was “at the highest level.” Tehran has apologized for the incident.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani said his country “deeply regrets” the incident, which it called “a great tragedy” and an “unforgivable mistake,” according to a statement issued by Iran’s state news agency, IRNA. “Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane and death of 176 innocent people,” the government-issued statement reads in part.
Most of the victims had Iranian and Canadian nationalities, but there were also British, Swedes, and Ukrainians on board. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made Iran’s apology for the catastrophe. “A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster,” the Foreign Minister wrote on Twitter.
The incident occurred in the early hours of Wednesday, just after Iran fired missiles at military bases used by US military personnel stationed in Iraq. The attack was a response to the death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani from a missile fired by a US drone in Baghdad. “Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations,” said Zarif.
The General Staff has assured the population that the person responsible for the tragedy will be immediately brought to court, and that the mistake will not be repeated. “We assure you that by pursuing fundamental reforms in operational processes at the armed forces’ level we will make it impossible to repeat such errors,” the statement read.
Ukraine Airlines International (UAI) flight PS752 crashed two minutes after taking off from Tehran Airport to Kyiv. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, via their respective intelligence agencies, had already anticipated that the crash was the result of an Iranian missile, and videos to that effect were posted on social media networks.
Incidents involving missiles and commercial aircraft over conflict areas are not uncommon. On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, killing the 298 people aboard the Boeing 777. In July 1988, an Iran Air Airbus A-300, flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was shot down over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf by missiles fired from a patrolling American frigate. The 290 people aboard died, and as a result, the United States paid Iran $101.8 million in compensation.