Iran Admits to Unintentionally Shooting Down Ukrainian Jetliner

A woman mourns outside the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton, Alberta, during a Wednesday vigil for those killed after a Ukrainian passenger jet crashed, killing at least 63 Canadians, just minutes after taking off from Iran’s capital. (Codie McLachlan/The Canadian Press via AP)

(CN) – Iran announced late Friday night that its military was responsible for shooting down a Ukrainian jetliner that killed 176 passengers earlier this week, calling it an act of human error.

The country previously denied claims from Western nations that the jetliner was shot down, instead saying it had mechanical issues. The Boeing 737 crashed on Jan. 8 just five minutes after it took off from the Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran and hours after Iranian missiles were fired upon Iraq’s Ain al-Asad air base.

In a military statement made on state media, Iran said the passenger jet was mistaken for a “hostile target” when it moved toward a “sensitive military center.

“In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the statement said, promising to prosecute those responsible.

The jetliner, owned by Ukrainian International Airlines, was en route to Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv and carried 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians.

Calling it a “sad day,” Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter Friday evening to offer condolences to the families of the passengers and blamed the incident on the U.S.

“Human error at time of crisis by US adventurism led to disaster,” he wrote.

Iran targeted Iraqi air bases with ballistic missiles in retaliation for the Jan. 3 U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani near the Baghdad international airport. No one was killed in the missile attack, a sign some military experts said that Iranian leaders launched the attack in order to save face with their citizens.

The White House announced new sanctions against Iran earlier on Friday following the missile strike.

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