Iran has admitted shooting down the civilian Ukrainian jetliner that crashed on Wednesday near Tehran, killing all of the 176 passengers on board. The Iranian admission comes amid mounting evidence, with U.S., British, and Canadian intelligence confirming that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.

The Iranian military blamed the shooting of the airliner on ‘human error,’ Iranian state TV reported, citing an official statement. So far, Tehran had pinned the blame on mechanical fault for the downing of the Boeing 737-800.

Associated Press reported:

Iran announced Saturday that its military “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard, after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible.

The plane was shot down early Wednesday, hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad. No one was wounded in the attack on the bases.

A military statement carried by state media said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military center” of the Revolutionary Guard. The military was at its “highest level of readiness,” it said, amid the heightened tensions with the United States.

Still refusing to take the responsibility for the shooting down of the civilian airliner, Iran continued to point fingers at America. On Twitter, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif blamed U.S. “adventurism” for the act.

Tehran’s remarks echo similar sentiments aired by some leading Democrats. Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg suggested on Thursday that the U.S. shared the blame for downing of the airliner, tweeting that “[i]nnocent civilians” had been “caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat,” after U.S. eliminated top Iranian terror operative Qassem Soleimani, who according to the Pentagon was planning imminent attacks on U.S. troops and diplomats stationed in Iraq.

Earlier this week, images showed Iranian workers bulldozing and clearing the crash site in an apparent attempt to destroy the evidence. Tehran had announced that it was opening the black boxes recovered from the debris of the plane, but refused to allow U.S. experts to analyse the flight data.

The U.S., British and other Western intelligence services had concluded that the Ukrainian airliner was shot down by “two Iranian surface-to-air missiles which were launched and detected by satellites just minutes after the airliner took off,” UK’s Daily Mail reported. Tehran had earlier rubbished the Western intelligence findings as ‘big lies.’ The head of Iran’s civil aviation organization dismissed the assertion of Tehran’s involvement in shooting down the civilian airliner as “illogical”. “Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane,” he declared on Thursday.

Washington has already announced stern measures against the regime if it were found responsible for the shooting. If evidence showed Iran’s hand in the shooting down of the plane, the U.S. “and the world will take appropriate actions in response,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

UPDATE:

Defense expert Riki Ellison: “100 percent certain” the plane brought down by anti-aircraft missile

[Cover image via YouTube]

 
 
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