Days after claiming that the catastrophic crash of a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 plane was caused by a mechanical failure, the Iranian military acknowledged that it erroneously downed the jet with a missile strike, killing all 176 people aboard.
- In a statement issued Saturday (Tehran time), Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff said the mistake was made early Wednesday after it fired a volley of missiles at U.S. installations in neighboring Iraq and was bracing for counter-attacks against strategic installations. The military said that shortly after the Kyiv-bound Ukraine International Airlines jet took off from Tehran, it appeared to take a sharp turn toward a center of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “in the form of a hostile flight.”
- Human error led to the plane being targeted and hit, “which unfortunately resulted in the martyrdom of dear compatriots and the deaths of a number of foreign nationals,” the military said. It expressed apologies and condolences, said it would “immediately report the culprit to the Armed Forces Judicial Organization,” and promised to present detailed explanations of the error publicly.
- The admission came after U.S., Canadian and allied officials said their intelligence pointed to a missile strike as the cause of the crash rather than a mechanical problem. After initial resistance, Iran said it would allow U.S. officials and Boeing representatives participate in the crash investigation alongside experts from Iran, Ukraine and other nations.