The commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has explained the attack on US base and human mistake that lead to tragic crash of Ukraine plane at a parliament session in Tehran, Hossein Salami said, Trend reports via IRINN.
"We were on our highest alert, following the reported threats of US missile attacks. Our anti-missile system was ready for hitting enemy's cruise missiles," Salami said.
"The operator was informed of a cruise missile flying and for second his communication was cut and with the conception that the plane on the radar is a serious threat, the shot was fired, supposedly at a cruise missile," he said.
"Our extended reviews increased the possibility that the missile hit the Ukrainian plane, but even then we weren't sure, so we sent in a team of experts to assess the situation," Salami said.
Salami went on to add that there was also pressure following the assassination of IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani by the US.
"The US has martyred our commander and warned that it would hit 52 targets in Iran, if we react," he said. "We were under pressure."
"Our aim wasn't targeted towards human casualties, or killing enemy soldiers. We reacted towards a US threat," Salami said.
"I wish I was in the (Ukrainian) plane and crashed and wouldn't witness such a tragic incident," said Hossein Salami.
A Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane with 167 passengers (including Iranian and foreign citizens) and 9 crew members on board crashed Jan. 8, after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran.
The plane was heading for Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. The plane took off at 06:12 (GMT+3:30), and at 06:18, it lost connection with the dispatcher center. The plane crashed at 6:22.
Following the investigation, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran released a statement saying that the Ukrainian aircraft was unintentionally shot down by Iran, due to a human error.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani expressed regret over the tragic incident.
"Iran's armed forces were on alert after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani and the US threats, so an unfortunate human error led to huge tragedy and innocent people have died," said Rouhani.
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