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Ukrainian aircraft story

There is a big turn in aircraft story of fallen down in Iran. A Ukrainian aircraft which crashed earlier this week in Iran had flown close to a sensitive military site belonging to the elite Revolutionary Guards and was shot down unintentionally due to human error, the Iranian military said in a statement read on state TV on Saturday.

The responsible parties would be referred to a judicial department within the military and held accountable, the statement said.

President Hassan Rouhani also confirmed the development and said that Iran “deeply regrets the disastrous mistake”.

In a series of tweets posted on Saturday, Rouhani promised that investigation would continue to “identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake”.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” he wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”

All 176 people on board were killed in the crash. The Iranian military statement expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

The United States and Canada had said that the plane was shot down, a claim Iran had initially denied.

Meanwhile, Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a tweet confirmed the finding and expressed his sorrow over the loss of lives. “A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by the United States adventurism led to disaster.”

“Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations,” he added.

Ukraine, Canada demand accountability, compensation

Hours after Tehran admitted on Saturday that she had unintentionally downed the Ukrainian jetliner, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded that Iran punish those responsible for the downing and pay compensation.

“We expect Iran… to bring the guilty to the courts,” the Ukrainian leader wrote on Facebook, calling also for the “payment of compensation” after Tehran admitted accidentally downing the plane and killing all 176 people on board.

Similarly, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said closure and accountability were needed after Iran said it had unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian plane.

He also demanded “transparency, and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims,” of whom many were Canadian dual nationals.

“This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement.

Russia also reacted to the admission as the chairman of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee said that Iran must “learn lessons” from the disaster.

“If decryption of the black boxes and the work of the investigation do not prove that the Iranian army did this intentionally, and there are no logical reasons for this, the incident must be closed.

“Hoping that lessons will be learned and action taken by all parties,” said Konstantin Kosachev, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of an Ukrainian plane crash among debris of the plane in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. — AP/File
Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of an Ukrainian plane crash among debris of the plane in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. — AP/File

Hours after Tehran admitted on Saturday that she had unintentionally downed a Ukrainian commercial plane, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded that Iran punish those responsible for the downing and pay compensation.

“We expect Iran […] to bring the guilty to the courts,” the Ukrainian leader wrote on Facebook, calling also for the “payment of compensation” after Tehran admitted accidentally downing the plane which resulted in the killing of 176 people who were on board.

Similarly, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said closure and accountability were needed. He also demanded “transparency, and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims,” of whom many were Canadian dual nationals.

“This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement.

Russia also reacted to the admission as the chairman of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee said that Iran must “learn lessons” from the disaster.

“If decryption of the black boxes and the work of the investigation do not prove that the Iranian army did this intentionally, and there are no logical reasons for this, the incident must be closed.

“Hoping that lessons will be learned and action taken by all parties,” said Konstantin Kosachev, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

Iran said on Friday it wanted to download black box recordings itself from a Ukrainian airliner that crashed, killing all 176 people aboard, after Canada and others said the plane was brought down by an Iranian missile, probably by mistake.

Iran, which has denied the Boeing 737-800 was downed by a missile, said it could take one or two months to extract information from the voice and flight data recorders. It said it could ask Russia, Canada, France or Ukraine if it needed help. Tehran also said the probe might take one or two years.

The Ukraine International Airlines flight to Kiev from Tehran crashed on Wednesday, when Iran was on alert for a US military response hours after firing missiles at US targets in Iraq.

The incident adds to international pressure on Iran, after months of tension with the United States and tit-for-tat military strikes. Washington killed an Iranian general last week in a drone attack in Iraq, prompting Tehran’s missile launches.

Evidence suggests plane was brought down by Iranian missile, says Canadian prime minister

In an outpouring of grief, Iranians and others shared images from the crash site on social media. One showed a single child’s red shoe in the dirt.

Another on Twitter showed a selfie of a mother and daughter in their seats, sent to a loved one before takeoff. Many of the victims held dual nationality.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he could not rule out a missile strike but this had not been confirmed.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was “ready to offer our support” to Ukraine’s investigation.

Ukraine’s investigators want to search the crash site for any debris of a Russian-made missile used by Iran.

On social media, many Iranians expressed anger that the plane was allowed to take off and voiced worries as images, which could not be independently verified, circulated on Twitter suggesting the crash site had been cleared by bulldozers.

Iran’s ambassador to Britain denied debris had been bulldozed away.

“We prefer to download the black boxes in Iran. But if we see that we can’t do that because the boxes are damaged, then we will seek help,” Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation, told a news conference in Tehran.

State television earlier showed the battered black boxes, saying their information could be downloaded and analysed.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, citing intelligence from Canada and other sources, has blamed an Iranian missile for bringing down the plane that had 63 Canadians on board, although he said it “may well have been unintentional”.

“The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” he said.

Ukraine’s general prosecutor asked Canada “to provide information available to the Canadian side that may facilitate criminal investigations” into the crash.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister said Moscow saw no grounds to blame Iran for the crash, TASS news agency reported.

France’s BEA air accident agency said it would be involved in the investigation. BEA helped analyse data from the flight recorder of a Boeing that crashed in Ethiopia last year.

A US official, citing satellite data, said Washington had concluded with a high degree of certainty that anti-aircraft missiles brought down the plane in error.

The official said the data showed the plane airborne for two minutes after departing Tehran when heat signatures of two surface-to-air missiles were detected.

There was an explosion in the vicinity and heat data showed the plane on fire as it fell. US military satellites detect infrared emissions from heat.

‘Psychological warfare’

US President Donald Trump said he believed “somebody could have made a mistake”.

Iran denied the airliner had been hit by a missile, saying such reports were “psychological warfare against Iran”.

“All those countries whose citizens were aboard the plane can send representatives and we urge Boeing to send its representative to join the process of investigating the black box,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said.

US, Canadian and French representatives were to travel to Tehran to attend meetings for the investigation, Iranian state media reported. Washington and Ottawa do not have diplomatic relations with Tehran.

Iran’s civil aviation organisation said in an initial report less than 24 hours after the incident that the three-year-old airliner, which had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday, encountered a technical problem after takeoff and was heading to a nearby airport before it crashed.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said it was making arrangements to tour the site after an Iranian invitation.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it had designated a representative to join the probe.

Boeing said it would support the NTSB. The company is reeling from two deadly crashes of 737 MAX planes, including the one in Ethiopia, that led to the model’s grounding last year.

The crash plane was built in 2016 and is the prior 737 generation before the MAX.

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