Iran says it ‘unintentionally’ shot down plane: Latest updates

Latest updates as Tehran acknowledges it accidentally shot down Ukrainian passenger plane that had 176 people on board.

Debris is seen from a plane crash on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2019. A Ukrainian airplane carrying at least 170 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran’
Debris is seen from a plane crash on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran [Mohammad Nasiri/AP Photo]

After initially denying reports suggesting it had caused the crash of a Ukrainian airliner, Iran has acknowledged that it “unintentionally” shot down the plane.

The announcement on Saturday came a day after officials from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom said they believed the plane was accidentally brought down by an Iranian missile. 

The Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 bound for Kyiv, Ukraine crashed minutes after takeoff from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

The crash happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. 

Here are all of the latest updates as of Saturday, January 11:

Truth about Iran crash could not be hidden: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy

The findings by Ukrainian experts in Iran meant that the truth about the crash could not be concealed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a televised address.

He also said that he had agreed with Iran‘s President Hassan Rouhani on the beginning of joint work to decode the black boxes of the Ukrainian plane that was shot down this week. He also urged Ukraine‘s international partners to be united and persistent until the investigation was complete.

Read the full story here.

Trudeau: Canada needs ‘full clarity’ on crash

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that Canada wants “full clarity” on the plane crash, Trudeau said in a televised speech.

He added that Iran did the right thing by taking responsibility for downing the plane, calling it an important first step and that it was necessary for Iran to compensate families of the victims. 

Iran’s Rouhani speaks to Canadian PM, promises further investigation

President Rouhani, during a telephone conversation with Trudeau, promised further investigation into the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.

“Iran welcomes any international cooperation in the framework of international relations to shed more light on the incident,” Rouhani said, promising further investigation into the crash that Tehran said was caused by its air defences “unintentionally”.

EASA: European airlines should avoid Iranian airspace

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has urged all European airlines to avoid Iranian airspace “until further notice” in an expanded recommendation.

The advice expands on an earlier EASA recommendation that national authorities bar airlines from overflying Iran below 25,000 feet. 

It was issued “in light of the statement from Iran that its armed forces accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger aircraft,” EASA said.

Ukrainian president calls for perpetrators to be held accountable

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Iran’s acknowledgement that it shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane was a step in the right direction but wanted those responsible to be held to account.

“I insist on immediately completing identification of the bodies and their return to Ukraine,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter after speaking to Iranian President Rouhani.

Protests in Tehran after Iran’s admission 

Crowds of students in central Tehran protested after the government’s response to the downing of the Ukrainian airliner, calling for those responsible to be held accountable.

Some of the protesters demanded that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei step down.

“Commander-in-chief [Khamenei] resign, resign,” videos posted on Twitter showed hundreds of people chanting in front of Tehran’s Amir Kabir university.

Speaking from Tehran, Al Jazeera Dorsa Jibbari said: “There’s a lot of anger. Iranians are demanding justice and accountability. Many people, including families of the victims, do not understand why their government would have lied to them for this long.”

Read the full story here.

Iran jet admission ‘important first step’: UK Prime Minister

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called Iran’s admission an “important first step”. 

“We will do everything we can to support the families of the four British victims and ensure they get the answers and the closure they deserve,” he said in a statement issued by his Downing Street office.

Johnson added that the UK would work closely with Canada, Ukraine and other international partners to ensure “a comprehensive, transparent and independent international investigation and repatriation of those who died.”

“This tragic accident only reinforces the importance of de-escalating tensions in the region,” he said.

“It is vital that all leaders now pursue a diplomatic way forward.”

US official calls Iran jet downing ‘reckless’

Iran’s downing of the plane was a “terrible tragedy,” a senior Trump administration official told Reuters News Agency.

“Ultimately, Iran made an awful mistake,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Iran’s reckless actions have again had devastating consequences.”

French specialists to decode black box 

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed on Saturday that French specialists would help decode the black boxes of the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Iran, according to Zelenskyy’s office.

Macron told Zelenskyy in a telephone call that France had started a formal procedure to launch an international investigation into the crash, Zelenskyy’s office said in a statement, adding that Macron had agreed to visit Kyiv.

Iran’s ambassador the UK retracts statement regarding plane crash 

Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the UK, issued an apology after denying reports that his country might have been behind the passenger jet’s downing. 

“In my statement yesterday to the UK media, I conveyed the official findings of responsible authorities in my country that missile could not be fired and hit the Ukrainian plane at that period of time,” Baeidinejad said in a tweet. 

“I appologise and regret for conveying such wrong findings.”

Ukraine airline says plane had no warning of threat before Iran crash

Ukraine International Airlines said its plane had received no warning from Tehran airport about a possible threat before it took off.

At a briefing by its president and vice president, the airline also denied suggestions that the passenger plane had veered off its normal course, and said the Iranian authorities should have closed the airport.

Plane mistook for missile: Revolutionary Guard 

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said the Iranian missile operator who shot down the passenger jet opened fire independently because of communications “jamming”. 

The operator had mistaken the Boeing 737 for a “cruise missile” and only had 10 seconds to decide whether or not to open fire, said Hajizadeh, the Guards ‘ aerospace commander, in televised remarks.

Ukraine believes Iran plane probe will be ‘objective and prompt’

Ukraine said Iran had provided enough data including videos and photographs to show the investigation into Tehran’s downing of the passenger jet will be objective and prompt.

President Zelenskyy’s office said Tehran provided Ukrainian experts in Iran “with all the photos, videos and other materials” linked to the investigation, “enough data to see that the investigation will be carried out objectively and promptly.”

IRGC commander accepts responsibility

A senior commander of Iran’s elite IRGC said he accepted full responsibility for the downing of the Ukrainian airliner. 

“I take full responsibility and I will obey whatever decision is taken,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said in remarks broadcast on state television.

“I would prefer to die rather than witness such an incident.”

Canadian PM says he wants full investigation into crash

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government sought a full investigation and full cooperation from the Iranian authorities.

In a statement issued by his office, Trudeau said Iran had now acknowledged that the plane was brought down by its own armed forces.

“Our focus remains closure, accountability, transparency, and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims. This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together,” he said.

“We will continue working with our partners around the world to ensure a complete and thorough investigation, and the Canadian government expects full cooperation from Iranian authorities.”

Iran must apologise, compensate victims: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy 

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said in a statement that Ukraine expected from Iran “assurances” of a “full and open investigation, bringing the perpetrators to justice”.

He added that Ukraine expected the “paying of compensation” and “official apologies through diplomatic channels”.

He also expressed hope for the continuation of the crash investigation without delay. A team of Ukrainian investigators is in Iran.

“Our 45 specialists should get full access and cooperation to establish justice,” he said.

The Ukrainian leader said he is due to hold a telephone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later in the day. 

Read the full story here.

Click here to read earlier updates

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies