Senior Iranian commander blames US for downing of Ukrainian plane

Rescue teams at the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after take-off near Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran. (File Photo: AFP)

A senior Iranian military commander said Friday that he believed the US was behind the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane over Tehran in January.

“My guess is that it was an electronic war waged by America,” Brig. Gen. Abdolali Poorshaseb, a deputy commander of Khatam al-Anbiya Central Headquarters, alleged. The headquarters is Iran’s top military operational base and is responsible for planning, coordinating and overseeing the operations of the country’s Armed Forces.

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“It has not yet been proven” that the US was not involved in the incident, Poorshaseb said in an interview on state TV.

On Jan. 8, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, killing all 176 onboard.

After days of denying responsibility, Tehran said its military mistook the passenger plane for a cruise missile.

“It was even reported from the border that cruise missiles had been fired,” said Poorshaseb.

The incident took place hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles on military bases in Iraq hosting US troops in retaliation for killing IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani earlier that month.

Last month, Iran released its first official report on the contents of the cockpit voice and data recordings, which were sent to France for reading in July.

The plane was hit with two missiles fired 25 seconds apart, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization Touraj Dehghani-Zanganeh said, adding that the passengers and crew were still alive 19 seconds after the first missile hit the plane.

An association representing the relatives of the downed Ukrainian passenger plane victims rejected Tehran’s report on the contents of the plane’s black boxes, saying it failed to address queries that insinuate the shootdown was a deliberate attack.

Some of the victims’ relatives believe the plane might have been deliberately shot down.

They demanded that Iran clarify why the flight was delayed by 57 minutes and why a second missile was fired when the pilots were trying to navigate the hit plane back to the airport. The relatives also questioned why Iran’s airspace was kept open the day the country’s military was carrying out missile attacks against targets in a neighbouring country.

Read more:

Iran says it ‘unintentionally’ shot down Ukrainian plane due to human error

Canadian families of Ukrainian plane shot down in Iran vow ‘not to remain silent’

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Last Update: Saturday, 19 September 2020 KSA 01:41 - GMT 22:41
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