Iran announced on 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 on Wednesday, hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing US 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 said the plane was mistaken for a 'hostile target' after it turned towards a
'sensitive military centre' of the Revolutionary Guard.
The military was at its 'highest level of readiness', it said, amid heightened tensions with the United States.
'In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit,' the statement said. It apologised for the disaster 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 Gen. Soleimani’s killing.
"A sad day," Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mr. 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."