Late Friday, January 10th 2020, Iran admitted that an Iranian missile had been shot at a passenger plane over Tehran when it was mistaken for a threat as it flew close to a sensitive military site on January 8th. The resulting crash killed all 176 people on board the plane.
Iran blamed human error for the incident, when an operator of a missile defence system mistook the aircraft for a US cruise missile. In the first few days after the crash, Iranian officials ruled out a rocket or terror attack on the aircraft and instead pointed to a technical failure.
Nine crew members and 167 passengers were on board the plane. Most of the victims were Iranian and Canadian citizens.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has said that the 176 people on board the flight would still be alive if tensions in the region had not been escalated.
Just hours prior to the missile strike on the passenger plane, Iran had fired missiles at US bases in Iraq, avoiding casualties, in response to the US assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Iranian armed forces were said to be braced for possible American reprisals.
Iran’s civilian officials claimed to have only learnt late Friday that an Iranian missile was responsible. Though a top commander stated that he had told authorities on the day of the crash that it had been shot down.
An investigation will continue, including an examination on the plane’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder – the black boxes. Canada’s Transportation Saftey Board (TSB) and other Canadian investigators have been invited by Iranian officials to take part in the investigation.
Action on Armed Violence urges for caution in the use of explosive weapons in response to US-Iran tensions and reiterates the importance of refraining from posing a threat to the civilian population.
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