Iran admits to having downed UIA passenger plane, says it was by mistake
UNTV News • January 11, 2020 • 730
TEHRAN — Iran admitted on Saturday that its armed forces had downed a Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet with 176 civilians on board and said it had been an involuntary human error.
The Iranian military had been denying their responsibility in the tragedy – which took place on Tuesday, shortly after the UIA flight PS752 took off from Tehran airport – for the past two days after several NATO members, spearheaded by Canada, said they had intelligence suggesting the plane crash was not due to a technical error, but rather had been brought down by ballistic missiles.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”
Rouhani said in a separate post that the investigation into the circumstances that led to the tragic error would continue.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard said in a statement that the mistake was made in the context of a “very delicate crisis situation,” claiming that the Boeing 737 had flown close to a IRG military center with the “altitude and flight position of an enemy target.”
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, also took to Twitter to express his regret for the incident and partially blamed it on the United States’ “adventurism.”
“A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster,” Zarif wrote. “Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”
The crash occurred in the context of a targeted missile attack against two US bases in Iraq, Tehran’s retaliation for the assassination of its top general, Qasem Soleimani, via drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Iran warned the US in advance of this limited response, thus avoiding any casualties.
On Friday, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, Ali Abedzade, ruled out the possibility that the airliner had been shot down by the army.
“One thing is for certain, this airplane was not hit by a missile,” Abedzadeh said during a press conference in Tehran held in response to earlier remarks by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying his government had evidence indicating that the cause of the crash that killed all 176 passengers was a missile strike.
On Saturday, it was also revealed that 57 passengers onboard the aircraft were Canadian nationals, instead of the 63 that had been initially reported. EFE-EPA
U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook said on Monday (June 29) that an Iranian arrest warrant for President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani was a “propaganda stunt”.
Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr announced the warrants, asking Interpol for help, according to the Fars news agency.
Hook speaking in Saudi Arabia alongside Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir, said: “This is a political nature. This has nothing to do with national security, international peace, or promoting stability. It is a propaganda stunt that no-one takes seriously.”
The United States and Interpol both dismissed the idea of acting on such a warrant.
The United States killed Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, with a drone strike in Iraq on Jan. 3. Washington accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.
Alqasimehr said the warrants had been issued on charges of murder and terrorist action. He said Iran had asked Interpol to issue a “red notice” seeking the arrest of Trump and the other individuals the Islamic Republic accuses of taking part in the killing of Soleimani. (Reuters)
(Production: Mohammed Benmansour, Matthew Stock, Aiden Nulty)
Iran may face a second outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, a government spokesman said on Wednesday (March 25), as the Islamic Republic banned internal travel and traditional gatherings in parks during the Persian New Year holiday period.
According to state TV, spokesman Ali Rabiei said people ignoring advice from health ministry officials travelled for the New Year holiday, which began on March 20, and could cause a second wave.
President Hassan Rouhani has banned any new trips between cities, Rabiei said, and warned of legal steps against people ignoring the ban.
The escalating outbreak in Iran has killed 2,077 people so far the health ministry said on Wednesday, with 143 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.
At a meeting telecast live, Rouhani said more restrictions would be introduced to contain the coronavirus that has infected 27,017 people nationwide. The government has so far stopped short of imposing a lockdown on Iranian cities.
Authorities have called on Iranians to avoid public places and stay at home, while schools, universities, cultural and sports centres have been temporarily closed across the country.
Rouhani said the new measures would be implemented for 15 days until April 4, when under normal circumstances schools open in Iran after the New Year holidays. (Reuters)
Deaths in Iran from coronavirus have hit 43, the highest number outside China, and the total number of infected people has risen to 593, an Iranian health official said on Saturday (February 29).
As several countries in the Middle East reported cases of the coronavirus stemming from Iran, the country is at the epicentre of the outbreak in the region.
Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki warned on Friday (February 28) of “a very difficult week” ahead in Iran, which only announced its first infections and deaths from the coronavirus on February 19 and where the death rate among confirmed cases has been around 10%, compared to around 3% elsewhere.
Coronavirus prevention posters have been placed across Tehran as many people are seen wearing protective face masks.
Tehran has ordered the shutting of schools until Tuesday (March 3) and the government has extended the closure of universities and a ban on concerts and sports events for a week.
Several high-ranking officials, including a vice minister, deputy health minister and five lawmakers, have tested positive for the coronavirus as outbreak forced Iran’s clerical rulers to close the parliament and impose internal travel bans.
One lawmaker, elected in Iran’s February 21 polls, had died of the coronavirus, Iranian media reported on Saturday.
Iran’s foreign ministry advised Iranians to avoid trips to South Korea, which reported 594 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, taking its tally to 2,931 cases.
Saudi Arabia is now the only Gulf Arab state not to have reported any cases of the coronavirus, which has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,800, mostly in China. (WANA via Reuters Connect)
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