Iran has revealed three factors that led to a Ukrainian airplane being mistakingly shot down in January, killing all 176 on board.
Missiles brought down the Ukrainian plane near the capital, Tehran, due to a misaligned missile battery, miscommunication between soldiers and their commanders and a decision to fire without authorisation.
That’s according to a report by Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation, which concluded “human error” was ultimately to blame for “unintentionally” shooting down the passenger jet on January 8.
It further detailed several moments where the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 could have been avoided.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards initially denied responsibility before conceding one of their missiles had brought down the unarmed civilian plane minutes after take-off.
Its admission followed the release of security camera footage that proved two missiles launched from an Iranian military site hit the aircraft.
The missile hit happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting US soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone strike that killed Guard General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
At the time, Iranian troops were bracing for a US counterstrike and appear to have mistaken the plane for a missile.
The report said the surface-to-air missile battery that targeted the Boeing 737-800 had been relocated and was not properly reoriented.
Those manning the missile battery could not communicate with their command centre, they mistook the civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without approval from officials, the report said.
“If each had not arisen, the aircraft would not have been targeted,” it said.
Iran is yet to release the plane’s “black box”, which holds key data and communications from the cockpit.
But according to news agency IRNA, Iranian authorities will send the black box to France for examination on July 20.
There has also been much speculation about why Iran did not ensure the skies were clear, or the very least, stop flights in and out of Tehran before launching the missiles.