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‘Disastrous mistake’: Iran admits it shot down Ukrainian plane

Iran has admitted ‘human error’ that killed all 176 people on board, including 13 Afghans

AT News

KABUL: The government of Iran has announced that it’s militarily “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 on board, including 13 Afghans.

The Ukraine International Airlines airliner had flown close to a sensitive military site when it was brought down, reported Iranian state TV, citing a statement from Iran’s armed forces. 

Iranian authorities in a statement on Saturday morning blamed ‘human error” for the incident, adding that the military mistook Flight 752 for a “hostile target”. Press TV also quoted Iran’s General Staff of the Armed Forces as saying that the plane had flown close to a “sensitive military site”.

The military said it was at its “highest level of readiness” amid the heightened tensions with the United States. “In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the military said. It apologized and said it would upgrade its systems to prevent future tragedies.

President Ashraf Ghani in a statement on Saturday said there are 13 Afghan nationals among the victims.

“Regretfully, there are 13 Afghan nationals among the victims of the Ukrainian airlines plane crash. I, hereby, express my deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of the victims. Our hearts go out to them during this tragic time of grievances,” Ghani said in a statement. 

President Ghani said he has directed government institutions to look for information about the relatives and family members of the victims living in Afghanistan to provide them with required support.

Moreover, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Idrees Zaman endorsed formation of the International Coordination and Response Group for Families of Victims of PS752, initiated by Canada.

Zaman joined a phone conversation with Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne of Canada and Foreign Ministers of other countries affected by the recent tragic crash of the Ukrainian Airlines plane in Iran during which they agreed to establish the International Coordination and Response Group for families of victims.

“All participating countries stressed the need for a full and transparent investigation into the causes of the crash so that families and loved ones will receive the answers they deserve,” the ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement on Saturday.

They further agreed that in the days and weeks to come, they will continue to remain in close touch and work closely together. They will also continue speaking to other international partners to ensure transparency and accountability following this tragic event.

“Given the latest announcement made by the Iranian government regarding the incident, we call on all countries affected by this tragedy to expand coordination and keep close contacts with a view to ensure both transparency and accountability as well as the provision of all the required information and assistance to the families of the victims,” the statement added. 

In a statement posted on social media, Iranian Presdient Hassan Rouhani wrote that the country “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake”.

“My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences,” he said, adding that “investigations continue to identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake”.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has offered condolences and called for an investigation after his country’s armed forces acknowledged that they accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane.

Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a statement said his country expects a full admission of guilt and compensation for the jet’s downing. “We expect from Iran assurances of their readiness for a full and open investigation, bringing those responsible to justice, the return of the bodies of the dead, the payment of compensation, official apologies through diplomatic channels,” he said. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also expressed his sorrow over the downed jet, but added that the US shared blame for the disaster.

“A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster,” Zarif tweeted on Saturday. “Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”

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