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EghtesadOnline: Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his deep condolences to the families of the Ukrainian plane crash in Tehran on Wednesday and urged the General Staff of the Armed Forces to take the required action regarding the error that caused the disaster.

"I order the General Staff of the Armed Forces to look into any case of possible negligence or error that may have been committed in this painful disaster," he said in a statement published by on Saturday. 

Ayatollah Khamenei also instructed relevant officials to implement all necessary measures to prevent such accidents from recurring in the future, Financial Tribune reported.

A Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 bound for Kiev crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on Wednesday, killing all 176 passengers and crew members on board. 

The incident coincided with Iran's missile attack on American locations in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of Martyr Major General Qasem Soleimani, giving rise to speculations that the incident was in some way connected to the operations. 

American and Canadian officials had suggested that the plane might have inadvertently been shut down by Iran's air defense systems. 

Iran initially refused to confirm this assessment, but officially announced on Saturday that the plane had in fact been mistakenly shot down by Iranian air defense systems while on high alert following the missile attack. 


Military Statement  

A statement by the General Staff of the Armed Forces said the flight was approaching a sensitive military center of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and was at a height and flying position of a hostile target when it was shot down "unintentionally and by human error".

The statement stressed that the Iranian armed forces were on the highest state of alert at the time due to the United States' previous threats of targeting multiple locations in Iran in case of retaliation as well as an unprecedented increase in aerial activity in the region. 

According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces, the air defense forces became more sensitive in the hours after the missile operation because American military flights around the country had increased, messages were delivered about aerial targets flying toward strategic centers in Iran and multiple targets were also seen on several radar screens. 

The statement offered condolences and apology for the human error and reassured that fundamental reforms will be undertaken to reduce the possibility of such mistakes to zero. 

It also pledged to refer the culprits to judicial authorities of the armed forces for legal action. 

President Hassan Rouhani issued a statement expressing condolences about the horrible disaster that he said was caused by "human error and a mistaken shooting" and led to the loss of tens of innocent lives.  

He ordered complementary investigations to ascertain all the causes of this catastrophe and said those guilty for this "unforgivable mistake" must be prosecuted and the results must be shared with the nation and the families of the victims. 

"It is essential to make the required arrangements to address the shortcomings of the country's air defense systems so that such tragedy will never be repeated," he said, reported.  

The president extended sympathy to the families of non-Iranian passengers and urged the Foreign Ministry to give consular assistance to identify and return the bodies to their countries. 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also took to Twitter to express regret about the tragic incident. 

“A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster. Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations,” he tweeted along with an image of a broken heart. 


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