Iran blames communication, missile battery alignment for shooting down Ukrainian jet

Iran blames communication, missile battery alignment for shooting down Ukrainian jet
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Iranian officials on Saturday released a report claiming that a misaligned battery system and miscommunication between soldiers and their commanders were responsible for the incident in which a Ukrainian jet was unintentionally shot down, killing the 176 people aboard.

The report, which comes more than six months after a Boeing 737 operated by Ukraine International Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from a Tehran airport, found that those manning a surface-to-air missile battery misidentified a civilian flight as a threat, The Associated Press reported

The report documented the moments leading up to the incident and how it could have been avoided, according to the AP. Among other things, the missile that targeted the civilian plane was recently relocated and not properly oriented. 

The soldiers operating the missile also could not communicate with their command center and elected to fire twice without getting approval from ranking officials, the AP noted, citing the report. 

“If each had not arisen, the aircraft would not have been targeted,” the report said, adding that the Ukrainian flight had done nothing unusual before being struck. 

The flight was reportedly "flying at a normal altitude and trajectory" when the first missile was fired. 

Iran is believed to have used a Russian-made Tor system to shoot down the civilian aircraft. Iran received 29 Tor M1 units from Russia in 2017 in deal estimated to be worth about $700 million, the AP noted. 

The civilian aircraft was shot down amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. Shortly before the incident, Iran launched ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops in response to the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Iranian authorities initially asserted that they had nothing to do with the crash. However, the country's military acknowledged in a statement on Jan. 11 that "human error" contributed to the attack. 

The New York Times released footage at the time that appeared to show the moment a missile struck the passenger plan. The video displayed a mid-air explosion shortly after the plane took off. 

The victims of the crash included 11 Ukrainians and 57 Canadians. After Iran admitted fault, Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauAre US-Japan relations on the rocks? US to restrict border crossings for another month: reports Iran blames communication, missile battery alignment for shooting down Ukrainian jet MORE and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded a comprehensive investigation

“Ukraine insists on a full admission of guilt,” Zelensky said at the time. “We expect Iran to bring those responsible to justice, return the bodies, pay compensation and issue an official apology. The investigation must be full, open & continue without delays or obstacles.”