Iran has admitted that it accidentally shot a Ukrainian passenger plane on the same day it fired ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq as retaliation for the assassination of its commander. The tragic incident gives a glimpse on the horrors of war and how it affects innocent people.
The admission comes days after all 176 people on board were killed moments after taking off from Tehran’s airport. Iran blames ‘human error’ for the incident saying that the military mistook the flight for a warplane. Iranian military was at its highest level of readiness amid the heightened tension with the US and the flight was unintentionally hit in such conditions.
Iran apologised for the incident saying it would upgrade its systems to prevent future tragedies. The claims are preposterous and raise several questions. If tensions had escalated then why was a major international airport still operational? According to established protocols, in case an alien aircraft intrudes a foreign airspace or approaches a sensitive target, it is escorted out by military jets. The speed of passenger aircraft is much less then military jets.
Iran had denied for several days that a missile downed the aircraft calling such suggestion ‘psychological warfare’ and refusing to give the jet’s black boxes to the plane’s manufacturer Boeing. Many countries, particularly US and Canada citing credible intelligence reports, said that they believed Iran shot down the aircraft. Ultimately, video footage emerged of the attack, forcing Iran to make the admission.
This is not the first incident of its kind as several commercial aircrafts have been struck by missiles. An air tragedy which is often forgotten took place on July 3, 1988, when a flight belonging to Iran Air was shot down among Iran’s territorial waters by two missiles from a US warship patrolling the region, apparently mistaking it for a fighter aircraft. US never admitted responsibility for the tragedy but paid compensation to the 290 victims.
There should be full investigation of the Ukrainian flight incident as the timing of the crash just hours after Iran fired missiles raises suspicion. The admission will place Iran as the aggressor as it spent more time fending criticism rather than offering sympathies to the victims. The Iranian ‘mistake’ could intensify already heightened regional tension and hostilities.