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'Unintentionally' Shot Down Ukrainian Jetliner That Killed All 176 Onboard, Says Iran; Calls it Human Error

Red Crescent workers check the debris from the Ukraine International Airlines plane, that crashed after take-off from Iran's Imam Khomeini airport (Reuters)

Red Crescent workers check the debris from the Ukraine International Airlines plane, that crashed after take-off from Iran's Imam Khomeini airport (Reuters)

All 176 people on board died when Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 went down near Tehran on Wednesday, shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

Tehran: Iranian state TV, citing a military statement, says the country ‘unintentionally’ shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 aboard.

The statement came Saturday morning and blamed “human error” for the shootdown.

The jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, went down on the outskirts of Tehran during takeoff just hours after Iran launched a barrage of missiles at U.S. forces.

Iran had denied for several days that a missile downed the aircraft. But then the U.S. and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believe Iran shot down the aircraft.

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 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials.

The US officials on Friday had given Kiev "important data" about the crash of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said on Friday. All 176 people on board died when Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 went down near Tehran on Wednesday, shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

American, British and Canadian officials say intelligence sources indicate that Iran shot down the plane, perhaps unintentionally, but this has been denied by Tehran. "President Volodymyr Zelensky and I met with US representatives," Prystaiko said on Twitter. "We have received important data which will be processed by our experts." Zelensky was due to speak to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the crash at 3 pm (1300 GMT), the minister added.

first published:January 11, 2020, 09:19 IST