Tehran acknowledges it accidentally downed a Ukrainian airliner that had 176 people on board.

After initially denying reports suggesting it had caused the crash of a Ukrainian airliner, Iran has acknowledged that it “unintentionally” shot down the plane.

The announcement on Saturday came a day after officials from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom said they believed the plane was accidentally brought down by an Iranian missile.

The Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 bound for Kyiv crashed minutes after takeoff from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

The crash happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

Here are all of the latest updates as of Friday, January 11:

French specialists to decode black box 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed on Saturday that French specialists would help decode the black boxes of the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Iran, according to Zelenskiy’s office.

Macron told Zelenskiy in a telephone call that France had started a formal procedure to launch an international investigation into the crash, Zelenskiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Macron had agreed to visit Kiev.

Iran’s ambassador the UK retracts statement regarding plane crash
Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, issued an apology after denying reports that his country might have been behind the passenger jet’s downing.

“In my statement yesterday to the UK media, I conveyed the official findings of responsible authorities in my country that missile could not be fired and hit the Ukrainian plane at that period of time,” Baeidinejad said in a tweet.

“I appologise and regret for conveying such wrong findings.”

Ukraine airline says plane had no warning of threat before Iran crash

Ukraine International Airlines said its plane had received no warning from Tehran airport about a possible threat before it took off.

At a briefing by its president and vice president, the airline also denied suggestions that the passenger plane had veered off its normal course, and said the Iranian authorities should have closed the airport.

Plane mistook for missile: Revolutionary Guard 

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said the Iranian missile operator who shot down the passenger jet opened fire independently because of communications “jamming”.

The operator had mistaken the Boeing 737 for a “cruise missile” and only had 10 seconds to decide whether or not to open fire, said Hajizadeh, the Guards’ aerospace commander, in televised remarks.

Ukraine believes Iran plane probe will be ‘objective and prompt’
Ukraine said Iran had provided enough data including videos and photographs to show the investigation into Tehran’s downing of the passenger jet will be objective and prompt.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said Tehran provided Ukrainian experts in Iran “with all the photos, videos and other materials” linked to the probe, “enough data to see that the investigation will be carried out objectively and promptly.”

IRGC commander accepts responsibility

A senior commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said he accepted full responsibility for the downing of the Ukrainian airliner.

“I take full responsibility and I will obey whatever decision is taken,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said in remarks broadcast on state television.

“I would prefer to die rather than witness such an incident.”

Canadian PM says he wants full investigation into crash

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government sought a full investigation and full cooperation from the Iranian authorities.

In a statement issued by his office, Trudeau said Iran had now acknowledged that the plane was brought 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,” he said.

“We will continue working with our partners around the world to ensure a complete and thorough investigation, and the Canadian government expects full cooperation from Iranian authorities.”

Iran must apologise, compensate victims: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy 

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said in a statement that Ukraine expected from Iran “assurances” of a “full and open investigation, bringing the perpetrators to justice”.

He added that Ukraine expected the “paying of compensation” and “official apologies through diplomatic channels”.

He also expressed hope for the continuation of the crash investigation without delay. A team of Ukrainian investigators is in Iran.

“Our 45 specialists should get full access and cooperation to establish justice,” he said.

The Ukrainian leader said he is due to hold a telephone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later in the day.

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SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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