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Iran Admits It Unintentionally Shot Down Ukrainian Passenger Jet

Red Crescent workers check the debris from the Ukraine International Airlines plane on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran, January 8, 2020. (Nazanin Tabatabaee/West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Iran admitted on Friday that its military had accidentally shot down a civilian passenger jet on Tuesday that belonged to Ukraine International Airlines and that took off from Tehran several hours after Iran attacked U.S. positions in Iraq.

All 176 passengers and crew were killed in the crash, most of them Iranian or Canadian citizens.

On Tuesday Iran launched 15 ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq that housed U.S. military personnel, in response to the U.S. killing of senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani on January 2.

The Iranian military released a statement saying the Ukraine flight “took the flying posture and altitude of an enemy target,” and flew in the direction of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps base. “Under these circumstances, because of human error,” the statement continued, the aircraft “came under fire.”

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif tried to place some of the blame on the U.S., writing on Twitter that “Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”

The military promised a “major reform in operations of all armed forces,” and said IRGC officials would appear on state television to address the public regarding the crash. The statement indicated the person responsible for shooting the aircraft down would face legal consequences as a result.

Iran had initially blamed the crash on a mechanical failure, however intelligence agencies in the U.S., Canada and European countries came to the conclusion that the plane was shot down. Earlier on Friday Hassan Rezaeifar, the head of the Iranian team investigating the crash, had said an investigation into the crash might take a year to complete.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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