Iranian authorities have acknowledged that the Ukrainian airliner that went down in flames earlier this week with 176 people aboard was “unintentionally” struck down as a result of “human error,” according to Iranian state TV, which cited the military.
The admission came early Saturday, little over a day after Western leaders said they had evidence to suggest Iran was responsible for downing Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752. All 176 people aboard the plane were killed when it plummeted from the sky in flames earlier this week in what Iranian authorities initially blamed on a “mechanical failure.”
The tragedy occurred at a time when Iran and the U.S. appeared to be on the brink of war, just hours after Iran fired missiles at bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the U.S. air strike that killed Quds Commander Qassem Soleimani.
In a statement released early Saturday, the General Staff of Iran's Armed Forces said the flight was shot down after it went towards a sensitive military site when it turned around in the air.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the announcement of the accidental downing marked a “sad day” but he went on to blame the Trump administration for the catastrophe.
“Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations,” he said.