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Iran admits “unintentionally” shooting down Ukrainian airliner

Iran state TV on Saturday cited a military statement as saying that the country “unintentionally” fired a missile at a Ukrainian jetliner because of “human error.”

The Ukraine International Airlines plane had flown close to a sensitive military site when it was brought down, Iranian state TV reported.

The military statement said those responsible would be held accountable.

The aircraft, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials.

According to the Iranian military’s statement, the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military center” of the Revolutionary Guard (Iran’s military force). The Iranian forces were at their “highest level of readiness,” after the US killed the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad.

“In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the statement said, apologizing for the disaster and saying that the Islamic country would upgrade its systems to prevent such “mistakes” in the future.

‘Greatest possible transparency’

Iranian authorities had denied shooting down the aircraft for several days.

Western governments said the passenger jet was shot down by an Iranian missile as Tehran forces were targeting US facilities in Iraq. The US, the UK and Canada said there was evidence that Iran shot down the plane, possibly by mistake.

On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told reporters that the US was willing to help his country investigate.

Zelenskiy said that the version of “a missile hitting the plane was not ruled out,” calling on governments to share data to help uncover answers about the Boeing 737 crash.

“Given the recent statements by the leaders of the states in the media, we call on all international partners — notably the governments of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom — to submit data and evidence concerning the disaster to the commission which investigates the causes,” Zelenskiy said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas echoed Zelenskiy’s calls for cooperation and urged “the greatest possible transparency” in the investigations.

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