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Iran admits shooting down Ukrainian flight over Tehran in ‘unintentional’ missile launch

The Ukrainian passenger aircraft that recently crashed in Iran’s capital was brought down due to “human error” after flying too close to defense installations, triggering an accidental missile launch.

A military statement read on state media channels came as the first confirmation from Iranian officials that a missile, and not an engine fire, caused the crash last Wednesday.

The statement noted that the shooting down was “unintentional” and maintained that those responsible would face consequences.

This comes after a number of conflicting press reports as to the fate of the aircraft, as well as claims from the United States and Canada that the plane was brought down by an anti-air missile strike, which Iran initially disputed, pending investigation.

The incident occurred on the heels of an Iranian missile attack on US bases in Iraq, launched in retaliation for an American assassination strike on Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, a culmination of months of rising tensions between the two countries.

All 176 people on board the airliner were killed in the crash, including 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainian crew members and several other nationals of Afghanistan, Germany and the UK.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pledged to find and punish all those involved in the unintentional shooting down of a Ukrainian aircraft over Tehran, calling it a “disastrous mistake.”

An 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,” Rouhani said in a tweet.

“Investigations continue to identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake.”

“My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families,” the president said in another post, offering “sincerest condolences” over the tragedy.

In the aftermath of the incident, Rouhani arranged for “compensation” payments to the victims’ families, and ordered reforms of the country’s air defense system to prevent similar disasters in the future.

Header: Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of an Ukrainian plane crash in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, killing all onboard. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)