A senior Iranian airforce commander has taken "full responsibility" for the missile attack that downed a Ukraine International flight on Wednesday and claimed 176 lives. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), addressed the media in Tehran on Saturday and said he “wished he was dead” upon learning of the Ukrainian jet downing.
"I have longed to die after hearing about the plane crash. I wish I had died and not witnessed such an accident. We have spent the rest of our lives purging people. Any decision made by leaders will be obeyed," Hajizadeh said. The commander explained that the incident occurred when Iran was bracing for potential strikes by its archfoe the United States. The “likelihood of conflict” between the two nations has been “unprecedented” since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Earlier in the day, a military statement carried by the state media said that the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned towards a “sensitive military center” of the Revolutionary Guard. “The military was at its highest level of readiness amid heightened tensions with the US. In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit.” It apologised for the disaster and said it would upgrade its systems to prevent such mistakes in the future. The responsible parties would be referred to a judicial department within the military and held accountably, the military said.
After a series of tweets by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani accepting blame for "unintentionally" shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner, the Iranian government has also released a lengthy statement calling the incident a "terrible catastrophe". The Iranian President in his statement has said that this 'disastrous mistake' happened in an 'atmosphere of threat' that was created by the 'aggressive' American regime. However, he also stated that this is something that cannot be overlooked and the perpetrators of this incident would be prosecuted.
Foreign Minister of Iran Javad Zarif on Saturday took to his Twitter and admitted the "human error" at the time of crisis by US adventurism and further apologised to the families of the victims.