Iran blames ‘human error’ for Ukrainian jetliner shootdown

Wreckage at the site of a crash of an Iranian Boeing 737 jet about 30 miles south of Tehran, Wednesday, Jan. 8. All 176 passengers on board were killed during a Ukrainian airplane crash shortly after takeoff from the Imam Khomeini International airport. Photo by Morteza Nikoubazi/UPI

July 13 (UPI) — Iran has blamed the fatal shoot-down of a Ukrainian jetliner early this year on a misaligned missile battery and an operator firing on the aircraft without authorization from commanders.

A report released Saturday by Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization comes months after Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down shortly after take off early Jan. 8, killing all 176 people on board.

Iran had initially denied responsibility for the downed plane but later that month admitted under international scrutiny that two of its missiles struck the aircraft before it crashed shortly after departing Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran.

The downing of the plane came amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington as the two adversaries had exchanged military provocations.

Iran was in a heightened state of readiness for a potential American assault as, hours before the plane was struck, Tehran had fired multiple missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq in retaliation for President Donald Trump assassinating the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ leader Qassem Soleimani days earlier.

According to the new report, “a chain of events initiated by a human error” resulted in the Ukrainian airliner being shot down.

The report states the aircraft was cleared for takeoff but the alignment of an air defense unit relocated amid the heightened tensions was off, causing the system operator to incorrectly target the plane as a threat.

The operator notified the target to the coordination center, but the communication was unsuccessful, the report states, and without receiving a response from the coordination center “the air defense unit operator fired a missile at the threatening target he had detected.”

“If each had not arisen, the aircraft would not have been targeted,” the report said, adding that further issues may be found once the plane’s flight recorders are read.

Canada on Sunday called on Iran to conduct further investigations.

“Immediate action is required from the Iranian regime to ensure that they conduct a comprehensive and transparent investigation so that all those responsible are held accountable,” Sylvain Leclerc, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, said in a statement.

The majority of those on board the plane were Iranian with 85 either holding citizenship or permanent residency in Canada.

On June 22, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne spoke on the phone with Mohammad Javad Zarif, his Iranian counterpart, stressing the need for a comprehensive, transparent investigation and for Tehran to provide compensation for the victims’ families, according to a readout of their conversation.

Zarif committed to sending the flight recorders to France for analysis and to enter negotiations for reparations.


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