Iran says it 'unintentionally' shot down Ukrainian plane
Iran said Saturday that it “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian jet over Tehran earlier this week that left all 176 onboard dead.
The statement from Iran’s military came after Tehran had repeatedly maintained that it had nothing to do with the crash. The country’s military said that the incident was due to “human error,” according to a translation from The Associated Press.
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The jet, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, crashed this week shortly after taking off from an airport in Tehran.
Iranian officials spent days denying any role in the crash, but faced increasing scrutiny after the U.S. and several other countries said intelligence pointed to it being shot down.
The plane was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries on its way to Kyiv.
Shortly before the crash, Iran had launched ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops in response to last week’s killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The statement also comes after President Trump said Thursday that the plane crash could have been a mistake, echoing other U.S. officials who suggested it was an accident by Iranian officials.
“It’s a tragic thing when I see that. It’s a tragic thing. But somebody could’ve made a mistake on the other side,” Trump said, adding it had “nothing to do” with the U.S. “It was flying at a pretty rough neighborhood, and somebody could’ve made a mistake.”
Asked if he thought it was a mechanical issue, Trump said he didn’t “think that’s even a question, personally.”
“I have a feeling that it’s just — something very terrible happened,” he said.
Footage later released by the New York Times appeared to show a missile striking the plane shortly after takeoff.