Iran acknowledges accidentally downing Ukrainian jetliner

Nasser Karimi, Joseph Kraus – Associated Press Jan 12, 2020

Iran announced Saturday that its military “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard, after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible.

The plane was shot down early Wednesday, hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad. No one was wounded in the attack on the bases.

A military statement carried by state media said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military center” of the Revolutionary Guard. The military was at its “highest level of readiness,” it said, amid the heightened tensions with the United States.

“In such a condition, because of human error and in a unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the military said. It apologized and said it would upgrade its systems to prevent future tragedies.

It also said those responsible for the strike on the plane would be prosecuted.

Iran’s acknowledgement of responsibility for the crash was likely to inflame public sentiment against authorities after Iranians had rallied around their leaders in the wake of Soleimani’s killing. The general was seen as a national icon, and hundreds of thousands of Iranians had turned out for funeral processions across the country.

The majority of the plane crash victims were Iranians or Iranian-Canadians, but Iranian officials had repeatedly ruled out a missile strike, dismissing such allegations as Western propaganda that officials said was offensive to the victims.

The crash came just weeks after authorities quashed nationwide protests ignited by a hike in gasoline prices. Iran has been in the grip of a severe economic crisis since President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani blamed the shootdown of the plane on “threats and bullying” by the United States after the killing of Soleimani. He expressed condolences to families of the victims, and he called for a “full investigation” and the prosecution of those responsible.

“A sad day,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. “Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster. Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”

The jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, went down on the outskirts of Tehran shortly after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport.

The U.S. and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believed Iran shot down the aircraft with a surface-to-air missile, a conclusion supported by videos verified by The Associated Press.

The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials. The Canadian government had earlier lowered the nation’s death toll from 63.

“This is the right step for the Iranian government to admit responsibility, and it gives people a step toward closure with this admission,” said Payman Parseyan, a prominent Iranian-Canadian in western Canada who lost a number of friends in the crash.

“I think the investigation would have disclosed it whether they admitted it or not. This will give them an opportunity to save face.”

Iran’s acknowledgement of responsibility was likely to renew questions of why authorities did not shut down the country’s main international airport and its airspace after the ballistic missile attack, when they feared U.S. reprisals.

It also undermines the credibility of information provided by senior Iranian officials. As recently as Friday, Ali Abedzadeh, the head of the national aviation department, had told reporters “with certainty” that a missile had not caused the crash.

On Thursday, Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei dismissed reports of a missile, saying they “rub salt on a painful wound” for families of the victims.


Krauss reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.


10 responses to “Iran acknowledges accidentally downing Ukrainian jetliner”

  1. Had Iran denied accountability and blamed it on MEK terrorists with smuggled MANPADS still many would have believed! If Iran wanted to be honest should have shown this honesty sooner to reduce PR damage. IRGC apparently was bamboozled what to do next! This incident blunted its drawn sword, I still hope there will be bigger attacks on US forces or even Israel as soon as possible. We will have to see what comes next.

    All of this clearly shows that Iran has NO real propaganda and media power or even initiative. It can be totally taken by surprise and loose its real victories in the Media war. I think the only remedy for IRGC at this time is to continue on more of its planned attacks as it promised.

    In contrast just see the Zionist media and propaganda power. They can easily show black as white and white as black. They act very quick. Iran like most of the oppressed world is a backward country in terms of Psychological management and propaganda power. Lies will die out eventually but this is a serious victory for US in the short term and as I said the only way out for Iran is to press on attacks.

  2. Israel is celebrating this event
    some how they changed the planes signature
    Moshe Solomons was talking about it early this morning
    what a tragedy how can right monded people celebrate doing this?

  3. Pity Trump wasn’ton that plane.

  4. After listening to Hajizade, I can’t blame IRGC though, they were acting based on protocol and claimed responsibility very quick, specially if one compares this to similar incidents in the past.

    2014 – Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17)
    2001 – Siberia Airlines Flight 1812
    1988 – Iran Air Flight 655


    This however has given a huge opportunity to everyone who is against Iran and they are all having fun in social media and elsewhere.

    Another important update: There are reports some Iraqi Journalists have been assassinated for having visited the Ain Al Assad base. Look for Dijla TV

  5. It seems Iranians are satanic people who lie, want to exterminate the west/christian world alognside their allies, the chinese, and shoot down innocent people for no reason at all…. And then lie about it. Who would have thought? Please, tell us again how Israel is evil. You want these clown Iranians obtain nuclear warheads? Seriously?

  6. It is a good and responsible thing for Iran to come forward to admit to it’s costly mistake. I am entirely sure it was not easy under all of this heightened tension. My respect to Iran to admit to this event. Again I am sure it was not easy. Do not forget that the U.S. military also intentionally shot down a passenger jet aircraft mistaking it for a military craft a number of years ago killing all aboard.These situations are seen as terrible collateral damage with such terrible loss of innocent life. I sense this terrible and unfortunate event will help to simmer down ( Hopefully ) further Iranian responses to the killing of 2 of their military leaders by the U.S…………………….HOPING FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

  7. Who is ultimately to blame for this? TRUMP and Netanyahu

    They started the whole thing, and the downed passenger jet was an unintended consequence of MEDDLING into foreign affairs.



  8. Yukon Jack…

    That’s a really impressive analysis of cause-effect. The theocratic terrorist regime low IQ corrupt leaders of Iran has absolutely nothing to do with this minor “glitch”.

    Great thinking.

  9. Good move on behalf of Iran. It took all the Iran haters by surprise and gives Iran time to investigate this tragic incident. Iran took the blame, just as Gaddafi of Libyia took the blame for PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The incident was five and a half month later after the USS Vincennces shot down the civilian Iranian flight 655 by mistake.with 290 lives lost. Flight 103 was Iran’s retribution, but by Gaddafi taken the blame, it prevented an all out war n the ME..

  10. Trump had promised and threatened to retaliate in case of an attack, hitting 52 sites in Iran, he even boasted of new shiny equipment! After the missile attack on AlAinBase Trump simply backs down and says “All is well! So far so good!”, compare this to what Hajizadeh said, that IRGC was on highest level of readiness and alert, they were expecting retaliation from US and had asked for civilian flights to be cleared multiple times. This leads to the incident and amazingly US did not attack. Hajizade said they had prepared 1000 missiles to be exchanged in the coarse of 5 – 7 days in a limited war with US and they were prepared to incrementally kill up to 5000 US soldiers in various bases around the region. All of this cast a great shadow of doubt on the theory that US and Iran had agreed on a limited strike. Finally after days a reporter from CNN was allowed into the base, standing next to a crater she said: “It is really hard to imagine how anyone could have survived this…”, The idea that US had 6 hours to evacuate does not make any sense. The maps of before and after that were shown, had signs of editing on the fields were helicopters and drones were destroyed. Iraqi sources and eye witnesses tell many planes and helicopters were seen going in and out of the base. Not allowing anyone in they had time to clean up and move the dead and injured.