Iran Says Its Military Shot Down Ukrainian Passenger Plane in Error

Iran said on Saturday its military had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane killing all 176 aboard, saying air defences were fired in error while on high alert in the tense aftermath of Iranian missile strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq.

Iran had previously vigorously denied bringing the plane down. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who until Saturday had kept silent about the crash, said information should be made public.

Wednesday’s crash heightened international pressure on Iran after months of friction with the United States and tit-for-tat attacks. A U.S. drone strike had killed a top Iranian military commander in Iraq on Jan. 3, prompting Tehran to fire at U.S. targets on Wednesday.

Canada, which had 57 citizens on board, and the United States had both said they believed an Iranian missile brought down the aircraft, although they said it was probably an error.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote on Twitter, promising that those behind the incident would be prosecuted. “My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families.”

Experts said mounting international scrutiny would have made it all but impossible to hide signs of a missile strike in any investigation and Iran may have felt a U-turn was better than battling rising criticism abroad and growing grief and anger at home, as many victims were Iranians with dual nationality.

In Twitter messages, angry Iranians asked why the plane was allowed to take off with tensions in Iran so high. The plane came down when Tehran was on alert for U.S. reprisals in the hours after Iran launched rockets at U.S. troops in Iraqi bases.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards apologised to the nation and accepted full responsibility. Senior Guards commander Amirali Hajizadeh said he wished “I could die” when he heard the news about the incident, state media reported.

Responding to Iran’s announcement on Saturday, Ukraine demanded an official apology and compensation. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would work “to ensure a complete and thorough investigation” and wanted Iran’s full cooperation.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter that “human error at time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster”, citing an initial armed forces investigation into the crash of the Boeing 737-800.

TELL-TALE SIGNS

A military statement said the plane flew close to a sensitive military site of the elite Revolutionary Guards. At the time, planes had been spotted on radar near strategic sites leading to “further alertness” in air defences.

Ukraine has said the plane was in a normal flight corridor.

Experts said a probe would almost certainly have revealed tell-tale signs on the fuselage remains of a missile strike.

“There’s nothing you can do to cover it up or hide it,” said Anthony Brickhouse, an air safety expert at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigator. “Evidence is evidence.”

Former U.S. Federal Aviation Administration accident investigator, Mike Daniel, told Reuters the mounting evidence made it inevitable that Iran would “accept culpability”.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mobile phone footage posted and circulated by ordinary Iranians on Twitter after the crash had indicated the plane came down in flames and exploded as it struck the ground.

Aviation experts said Iran and the airline would have to explain why the plane was allowed to take off, as it is up to a country to close its airspace when there is a security risk, while many other airlines were already avoiding Iranian airspace.

PUBLIC GRIEF

Iran’s initial denials this week had described accusations that a missile was to blame as “psychological warfare”.

Grief-stricken Iranians complained on social media that Iran’s authorities had spent more time fending off criticism than sympathising with victims’ families.

“Why were any civilian airlines flying out of Tehran airport in those conditions?” Twitter user Shiva Balaghi wrote.

A U.S. official had said data showed the plane airborne for two minutes after departing Tehran when heat signatures of two surface-to-air missiles were detected. There was an explosion in the vicinity and heat data showed the plane on fire as it fell. U.S. military satellites detect infrared emissions from heat.

U.S. President Donald Trump said this week that “somebody could have made a mistake.”

Iran had said on Thursday it would download the information from voice and flight data recorders, known as black boxes, to determine what had happened, although it had said the process could take one to two months.

Tehran had said it could ask Russia, Canada, France or Ukraine for help in the investigation.

The disaster had echoes of an incident in 1988, when the U.S. warship USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner, killing 290 people. Washington said it was a tragic accident. Tehran said it was intentional.

(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh, Parisa Hafezi and Alexander Cornwell in Dubai, Steve Holland in Washington and Allison Lampert; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Frances Kerry)

Responses

  1. Sooo this was “human error” and the world is supposed to trust Iran LOL! They can’t be trusted because they’re cold blooded terrorists and now also they act like irresponsible children and made a “mistake” which caused this unnecessary tragedy. The leadership needs to be wiped out.

  2. Allowing 7th century heathens to have 21st century weapons is not a good idea, got that Barry ?

  3. “United States troops at the Al-Asad air base in Iraq were aware that an Iranian attack was imminent, allowing them to take shelter two-and-a-half-hours before missiles struck on Wednesday” CNN exclusive

    Yup, I predicted on IJR that this was the case, a few days ago – no casualties at all because they were warned ahead of time.

  4. Ooops! We f’d up!

    So….their military accidentally shot down a civilian, passenger aircraft.
    They also launched “tens” of missiles at a military base with NO casualties. (okay, they got at lot of that tech from the Russians and NK with funds from the Big Zero).

    Their religious-inspired military strength is *ahem* strong, their effectiveness is weak.
    Effectiveness count in conflict.
    Those fearing a conflict with Iran are chicken-littles. Also cowards and traitors.
    Let Iran cast yet another stone. We’ll bury them Kruschev-style, except we will actualy do it.

    As Bugs would say, “We’ll moider the bums!” who also happen to hate us and have been waging a less-than-covert war against us and anyone NOT part of their Shiite Crescent schemes.

  5. Yeah sure. If you believe this was an accident then I have some ocean front property in the middle of Kansas and a huge iron bridge to sell you.

  6. “Senior Guards commander Amirali Hajizadeh said he wished “I could die” when he heard the news about the incident,”

    Your wish can easily be granted. Just give us your exact location so our drone doesn’t get an innocent person.

  7. President Hassan Rouhani, That guilty party you mention, that would be those in command, probably including you. But instead, your government will likely blame and prosecute some hapless private who happened to be on duty. That is passing the responsibility instead of taking responsibility. When you use weapons, all who are killed or injured by those weapons are your responsibility, not just the ones you meant to shoot. No America is not at fault, America did not return fire that night. Your man was killed while on foreign soil trying to leave the country after leading an attack on a diplomatic embassy, not a military facility. You are supposed to honor peace for embassies. But Iran has a long history of attacking embassies including kidnapping 52 for 444 days, in your own country. You can’t claim return fire in defense when it is retribution you were trying for,

  8. “Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter that ‘human error at time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster.'”

    Does that sound like taking responsibility to you?

    1. No! But it does sound like Leftist Democrats in our Congress.

  9. The idiot class of chattering brainless Democrats will still find a way to blame President Trump.

    1. You dumb ass its Trump fault I wish someone would send him to hell now..

      1. Join the discussion…Is that a self evaluation of yourself tom????? Are you really a dumb ass like your comment shows.

  10. It was Trump—-blame Trump—-oops.
    Plane had an engine failure–plane tried to return to airport—oops
    Iranians can take Barry Hussein’s corrupt billions payoff and pay the families of the innocent deceased.
    Iranians want nuclear warheads—they are incapable of managing a teeter totter.

  11. People keep saying it was probably incompetence or an “accident” are naive as hell if they honestly accept that. They thought hey it’s a civilian plane leaving the area it’s American made I bet there are some Americans on there is what they thought. They were hoping to kill a few Americans and blaming the US for a malfunctioning plane. I mean the fact they wouldn’t release the black box instantly made it clear they shot it down and it’s Iran come on. My question is why the hell would anyone travel to that terrorist shit hole even if your from there you got out why go back? Your family is there well that’s still not a good enough reason to go back there ever a funeral would be the only reason to go back maybe. People disappear there frequently not just Americans anyone who has ever spoken out against the regime suffers so does anyone their related to still there. Basically walking into Iran is the equivalent of casually strolling into Mordor the realm of the dark lord sauron actually he might be more accommodating. Lastly in regards to the commander of their terrorists core wishes he was dead that can be made reality very easily you might be executed in the end to take the blame.

    1. Nephew’s grandma died. No one went back into country for the funeral. They understand….stay out of Iran. It’s a sad statement, but they realize that they could be picked up in an instant and never heard from again. Grandma wouldn’t want that. Read the book “Not Without My Daughter”.

  12. This “mistake excuse” is pure fantasy. To try to excuse this intentional downing of a civilian plane when Iran has airline technology and knows what planes took off two minutes before the plane was destroyed with 176 souls on board…..is typical of a nation that has no regard for life. Lived in Iran for nearly 4 years. All the denials nationally instead of immediate acceptance of responsibility and then when the action becomes undeniable to put off responsibility on the US if they hadn’t been in a conflict is still denial of responsibility. Lets get real here. If Iran hadn’t been sponsoring terrorism in Iraq by storming an American Embassy and killing American Soldiers and a contractor and ….the US would not have had to act to stop Solomini from that and other attacks on other embassies……there would have been no reason for launching ballistic missiles at Iraq….and then no civilian plane shot down over Iran. For once suck it up….a screwed up terroristic country hell bent on killing and stirring up trouble everywhere possible in the world…..Iran is 100% responsible for state sponsored terrorism and 100% responsible for everything resulting from those activities.

  13. So, that’s all they had to say, from the get-go, and admit that it was huge mistake. We, as humans, understand that human error happens, no one is perfect, and understanding the tensions that were going on at the time, get that someone whigged out and panicked when they saw a plane in the air, not realizing that it was a civilian aircraft that had gotten permission to fly after the attacks on our airbases in Iraq. But remember this… typical government responses… LIE to everyone, including our own US government. We’re just now finding out how badly our own government has lied to her people about what they have done.

    NOW, they have egg on their face, which is what they were trying to avoid in the first place, why Trump allowed them to bomb empty airbases that had been evacuated ahead of time, so zero casualties on the part of our military forces. Then this happened.

    Okay, folks. Let’s mutually grieve over what happened. Nothing can be done about it now. And move on, learning from the experience.

    1. The only problem I have with your comment is that I don’t think it was an accident. They are so disorganized they don’t know who among the fanatics fired it? It’s big and didn’t fire itself.

  14. So now what? The families of the casualties will just accept the we made a mistake excuse? Are the Iranians that incompetent? Does anyone really believe that? This whole issue is the saddest of news in a long time. And President Trump had nothing to do with it as much as Democrats live just to blame him.

    1. We’re humans, aren’t we? We are not perfect. Someone whigged out under the circumstances and didn’t get the memo that aircraft were now in the air that was of non-combative nature. That’s what happened. Human error DOES happen, especially when tensions are high. The apology should be not only about shooting the plane down, but apologizing (more important, IMHO) for lying about it and covering it up from the get-go. THAT’S what makes us upset, isn’t it?

      1. No, all of it does. Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism all over the place. Attacking our embassy, Dems propaganda that Trump is wrong, Iran being too stupid to ground all air traffic then lying. You were correct in your statement above. Our govt lied to us about many things. WMDs, keeping us in endless war, spying on the opposition then having IC turn it into an attempted coup and now Ukraine crap. They still bury selling our uranium to Russia, defend sending money to Iran that they even admit would be used to sponsor terrorism, think it’s ok to destroy evidence if you’re a Clinton. The list is actually endless. Yes, human error does happen. IMHO, this wasn’t human error. I trust nothing anymore. Who was on that plane that we will never know the name of that Iran wanted dead?

  15. As a former USAF weapons specialist If this was deliberate than it was total incompetence on behalf of the Iranian military. The aircraft would have had a transponder that would have identified it and there are certain radio frequencies that can be used to avoid this type of thing. It was probably an incompetent and nervous Iranian missile crew

    1. IMHO, under the circumstances of the tensions that were high after the attacks on US airbases in Iraq, this is exactly what it was. That plane was apparently the first one off the ground, authorized to fly, after the military activities, and the missile crew didn’t get the message. What has upset everyone, I think, is that the Iranians tried to cover it all up, lied about it, instead of just saying immediately what happened and apologizing that it was an honest mistake. But their ego and pride is too much. They ended up with egg all over their faces when the whole night was to save face for both sides, by lying about the whole thing.

  16. It is about time Iran admitted their error! No need to blame President Trump for their trigger happy troops.

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