Iran said today, Saturday, that it had inadvertently shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane human error, killing 176 people on board, after initially denying it, in the midst of tension following Iranian missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.
Iran's Fars News Agency reported that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was informed on Friday of the unintended shooting of the plane, he requested a meeting of the Supreme National Security Council and said that the information should be made public.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this catastrophic mistake ... my prayers for the bereaved families. I offer my deepest condolences," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter today, Saturday.
He considered that the Iranian army's shooting down of the plane was "a great tragedy and an unforgivable mistake."
For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter that the armed forces investigation showed that the Boeing 737-800 crashed as a result of a "human error during a crisis that arose due to the American recklessness, which led to a disaster."
In a statement, the Iranian army stated that a missile struck the plane and offered its condolences to the families of the victims. The statement added that the plane flew near a sensitive military site of the Revolutionary Guards.
The statement continued, saying that the responsible parties will be referred to the judicial administration within the army and will be held accountable.
Confession and realization
Mobile phone footage, posted on Twitter by Iranians after the accident, showed the plane ablaze.
The United States and Canada, which lost 57 citizens on board, accused Iran of downing it. "The world is watching," Ottawa told Tehran.
Iran initially denied the accusations, describing such comments as "psychological warfare."
For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky said in a statement on Saturday that his country expects a full investigation, full recognition of guilt and compensation from Iran after the plane was shot down.
"Iran has admitted guilt in shooting down the Ukrainian plane, but we insist on a complete admission of guilt," Zelinsky said.
"We expect Iran to confirm its readiness to conduct a full and open investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice, return the dead bodies, pay compensation and offer formal apologies through diplomatic channels," he added.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also called for "transparency" to conduct a "full and thorough investigation" of determining responsibilities.
"Our priority remains to make this file transparent and fair," Trudeau said in a statement, adding that "it is a national disaster and all Canadians are in mourning. We will continue to work with our partners around the world to ensure a full and transparent investigation."