Iran's president admits Iranian missile downed Ukraine Airlines jet
Iran's president has finally acknowledged what Canada, Britain and the United States have strongly suspected for days, that it was indeed an Iranian missile that downed a Ukrainian jetliner on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,'' Hassan Rouhani said late Friday in a post on Twitter.
"My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.''
Rouhani said investigations continue to "identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake.''
Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister also issued a tweet that said "A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.''
There were 57 Canadian citizens aboard the doomed airliner.
In statement posted on Twitter overnight by Justin Trudeau's communications director, Cameron Ahmad, the prime minister said "Tonight, Iran acknowledged that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by its own armed forces. Our focus remains closure, accountability, transparency and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims.
"This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together,'' the statement added. "We will continue working with our partners around the world to ensure a complete and thorough investigation, and the Canadian government expects full co-operation from Iranian authorities.''
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a statement saying the crash investigation should continue and the "perpetrators'' should be brought to justice. He also said Iran should compensate victims' families.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, expressed his "deep sympathy'' to the families of the victims and called on the armed forces to ``pursue probable shortcomings and guilt in the painful incident.''
(With files from the Associated Press)