Iran on Saturday admitted that it shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane on January 8 killing 176 onboard. The ‘confession’ will trigger more trouble for Tehran. ‘Regretting’ the crash, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani offered ‘condolences’ to the families of the victims. “Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people. Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. #PS752 (sic),” Rouhani said on Twitter. “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences,” he said in another tweet.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif termed the development as ‘sad day’. Using a heartbreak emoji, Zarif tweeted, “A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: 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.”
Iran had denied for several days that a missile caused the crash. But then the US and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believed Iran shot down the aircraft with a surface-to-air missile, a conclusion supported by videos of the incident. The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 57 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials. The Canadian government had earlier lower the nation's death toll from 63.
The region is embroiled with pitched tensions after the shocking assassination of General Qasem Soleimani. Pentagon and the White House had officially confirmed that President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iran’s high-profile General in an airstrike in Baghdad on January 3. In a statement, the White House said that, “At the direction of the President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.” The Department of Defense added that, "General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more."