Live Updates: Iran Says Downing of Plane Was ‘Disastrous Mistake’ – The New York Times, The New York Times

Live Updates: Iran Says Downing of Plane Was ‘Disastrous Mistake’ – The New York Times, The New York Times

The military blamed human error, saying the Ukrainian jet had taken a sharp, unexpected turn that brought it near a military base.

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Ukraine’s president is demanding “a full admission of guilt” and compensation from Iran.


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The New York Times has obtained and verified video showing the moment a Ukrainian airliner was hit in Iran.Credit

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************ (Iran says it accidentally shot down Flight) .

Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had been informed about the accidental shooting down, said information should be publicly announced after a meeting of Iran’s top security body, the semiofficial Fars news agency said on Twitter.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitterthat Iran “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”

in a statementcited by the semiofficial Fars News Agency, the president offered condolences to the victims’ families and said that “the terrible catastrophe should be thoroughly investigated.” He added that those responsible for “this unforgivable mistake” would be identified and “prosecuted.”

But he also said that in an environment of military threats and terror by the United States’ “aggressive” government against the people of Iran, and facing the possibility of American military strikes on Iran, the armed forces made a “human mistake and misfired” and “it led to a big catastrophe and innocent people were killed.”

“This painful incident is not something we can easily overcome,” he added, saying that was imperative to is correct any shortcomings in the country’s defense mechanism and ensure such a tragedy would not happen again.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in his first re action to Iran’s announcement, said Kyiv would “insist on a full admission of guilt” by Tehran.

“We expect Iran to assure its readiness for a full and open investigation, to bring those responsible to justice, to return the bodies of the victims, to pay compensation, and to make official apologies through diplomatic channels, ”Mr. Zelensky said in a post on his Facebook page. “We hope that the investigation will continue without artificial delays and obstacles.”

Mr. Zelensky had come under domestic criticism this week for refusing to publicly blame Iran for the disaster even as the United States, Canada and Britain did. Instead, he dispatched a team of specialists to Tehran who sought to work alongside Iranians in studying the crash site. He implored the public to avoid speculating about the cause of the disaster.

Iran’s announcement on Saturday vindicated Mr. Zelensky’s cautious approach, said Ivan Yakovina, a columnist for the Kyiv-based magazine Novoye Vremya. “If there had been threats from Ukraine, then I believe Iran wouldn’t have allowed the tweets to do their jobs and generally would have refused to admit guilt,” he said.

Iranians reacted with anger and sorrow toward their government.

Iranians expressed fury in the first hours after the admission. Even conservatives and supporters of the government accused the authorities of having intentionally misled the public about what had brought down the plane, whose passengers included many young Iranians on their way to Canada for graduate study.

The semiofficial Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, posted a harsh commentary condemning Iranian leaders, saying “their shortcomings have made this tragedy twice as bitter.”

“It is pivotal that those who were hiding the truth from the public for the past 640 hours be held accountable, we cannot let this go, ”it read.

“Individuals, media, political and military officials who commented in the past hours must be investigated. If they knew of the truth and were deliberately speaking falsehood or for any reason were trying to hide it, they must be prosecuted, no matter what post they hold. ”

Siamak Ghaesmi, a Tehran-based economist, addressed the country’s leaders in an Instagram post: “I don’t know what to do with my rage and grief. I’m thinking of all the ‘human errors’ in these years that were never revealed because there was no international pressure.

“I’m thinking of the little trust left that was shattered. I’m thinking of the innocent lives lost because of confronting and being stubborn with the world. What have you done with us? ”

Mohamad Saeed Ahadian, a conservative analyst in Iran, said on Twitter,“ There are two major problems with the Ukrainian Airlines issue. One is firing at an airplane and two is firing at the public’s trust. The first can be justified but the latter is a mistake with absolutely no justification. ”

Some social media posts made use of the term“ harsh revenge, ”which Iran’s leaders had promised to inflict on the United States for the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a top Revolutionary Guards commander, in a drone strike last week.

Mojtaba Fathi, an Iranian journalist, wrote on Twitter, “They were supposed to take their harsh revenge against America, not the people. ”

Mohsen Moghadaszadeh, a cleric from Qom, tweeted:“ If there were loved ones of the highest officials on that plane would you have committed a similar mistake? If the answer is yes then your apology is accepted. If no then apology is not enough. ”

********************** Western nations had already determined that Tehran was to blame.

International pressure had been building on Iran to take responsibility. American and allied officials had said thatall intelligence assessmentsindicated that surface-to-air missiles fired by Iranian military forces had shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 823.

There was no. immediate reaction from the United States to Iran’s admission, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been the first American official to publicly confirm the intelligence assessments.

“We do believe that it’s likely that the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile, ”Mr. Pompeo said at a briefing at the White House announcing new sanctions against Iran on Friday. “We’re going to let the investigation play out before we make a final determination. It’s important that we get to the bottom of it. ”

The crash occurred days after the American drone strike that killed (General Suleimaniand an Iraqi militia leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, as they left the airport in Baghdad. The general’s killing sent shock waves through the Middle East and led tocalls for revengein Iran, as well as a vote by Iraqi Parliament to oust American troops from that country.

Iran responded to the drone strike by firinga barrage of ballistic missiles at two American bases in Iraq. But the missiles caused little damage and no American or Iraqi casualties, President Trump and Iraqi officials said.

Farnaz Fassihi, Anton Troianovski and Andrew Kramer contributed reporting.

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