Iran Admits It 'Unintentionally' Shot Down Ukrainian Plane, Blames Human Error
Iran's military forces have admitted to shooting down a Ukrainian jet on Wednesday which killed all 176 people on board, state media reported.
A statement from Iran's armed forces, shared to its state news agency on Saturday, claimed the plane was "accidentally hit by human error".
Iran claimed the Ukrainian Airlines jet which was just minutes into its journey to Kyiv, was "in close proximity to a sensitive military centre of the IRGC".
It claimed the jet was "in the height and shape of hostile aircraft".
The military statement apologised to the families of the deceased for the "human error" and promised "major reforms" in operational processes of its armed services.
Iran had repeatedly denied the plane had been shot by a missile in the days since the crash occurred.
Saturday's statement comes after U.S and Canadian officials said they had received intelligence which led them to believe Iran shot the plane down.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said the country "deeply regrets this disastrous mistake".
"My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences," Rouhani said in a statement.
He promised investigations would continue to identify and prosecute "this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake".
Following Iran's statement, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his nation expects a full investigation, a full admission of guilt and compensation.
Zelenskiy said "Iran has pleaded guilty to crashing the Ukrainian plane. But we insist on a full admission of guilt."
"We expect from Iran assurances of their readiness for a full and open investigation, bringing those responsible to justice, the return of the bodies of the dead, the payment of compensation, official apologies through diplomatic channels," he added.
Meanwhile, Ukraine International Airlines President Yevhenii Dykhne said on Saturday he never doubted that the airline had not caused the crash.
“We didn’t doubt for a second that our crew and our plane couldn’t be the cause for this horrible plane crash,” Dykhne said.
“These were our best guys and girls. The best,” he said.
The Ukrainian Airlines jet was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials.
With AAP and Reuters.