Tehran (Agencies): Iran has admitted it unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane due to 'human error'.
The Iranian military said this in a statement read on state TV on Saturday.
The passenger plane, which crashed on Wednesday killing all 176 people on board, was mistaken for a "hostile plane" and was hit while enemy threats were at the highest level, according to a press statement published by the official IRNA news agency.
All on board were killed when the jet crashed hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq on January 8 to avenge the killing of its top general Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike.
According to Iranian media, officials said that the plane had flown close to a "sensitive military centre" and was mistaken for a "hostile target".
The statement added that the military was at its "highest state of readiness" amid the US tensions.
It also said it would upgrade its systems to prevent such "mistakes" in the future. The military statement, which was read out on state TV, added that the people responsible would be held accountable, and expressed condolences to the victims' families.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Saturday said his country "deeply regrets" the shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner, which he described as "a great tragedy & unforgivable mistake".
The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.
My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences. https://t.co/4dkePxupzm
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 11, 2020
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also offered his country's "profound regrets, apologies and condolences" to the families of the victims. "A sad day," Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter. "Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster," he said.
"Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations."
A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces:
Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster
Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 11, 2020
Meanwhile, Ukraine, Canada have demand accountability and compensation for the losses.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded that Iran punish those responsible for the downing and pay compensation.
“We expect Iran... to bring the guilty to the courts,” the Ukrainian leader said in a Facebook post, calling also for the “payment of compensation” after Tehran admitted accidentally downing the plane and killing all 176 people on board.
Similarly, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said closure and accountability were needed after Iran said it had unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian plane.
He also demanded “transparency, and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims,” of whom many were Canadian dual nationals.
“This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together,” Trudeau's office said in a statement.
On January 8, the Boeing 737-800 plane, flying to Kiev, crashed near Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport shortly after takeoff, killing all 176 people on board, including 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons on board.