Iran Says It ‘Unintentionally’ Shot Down Ukrainian Jetliner

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

Iran announced that its military “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, resulting in the deaths of all 176 aboard, according to reports.

The Boeing 737 had flown close to a sensitive military site belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was shot down due to human error, the Iranian military said on Saturday morning in a statement read on state TV.

The crash took place on Wednesday, Jan. 8 on the outskirts of Tehran shortly after it took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport, and just hours after Iran launched a barrage of missiles at U.S. forces.

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

Ukraine-plane-crash
Debris of a plane belonging to Ukraine International Airlines, that crashed after taking off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini airport, is seen on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran on Jan. 8, 2020. (Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA–West Asia News Agency via Reuters)
Part of the wreckage from Ukraine International Airlines
Part of the wreckage from Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, a Boeing 737-800 plane that crashed after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport on Jan. 8, 2020. (Iran Press/Handout via Reuters)

The Iranian military statement expressed condolences to the families of the victims who died in the crash. The statement added that responsible parties would be referred to a judicial department within the military and be held accountable, Reuters reported.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter, saying, “A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis … 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.

Iran had denied for several days that a missile caused the aircraft to crash. The United States and Canada, citing intelligence, later said they believe Iran shot down the aircraft.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report