Boeing 737-900ER
Boeing 737-900ER

Iran admits to shooting down plane

Human error has been blamed for the downing of the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737.

Iran state TV, citing the military, says the country 'unintentionally' shot down a Ukrainian jetliner because of human error.

All 176 people aboard the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737 were

killed when it crashed in a field shortly after takeoff near Tehran on Wednesday morning.

The crash occurred hours after Iran fired missiles at American bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian general in a US air strike.

In a statement written by the Armed Forces General Staff on the Islamic Republic News Agency, comes following an immediate investion due to "possible impact of military action on the incident."

"The General Staff of the Armed Forces expresses condolences to the grieving families of foreign nations and apologised for the human error," said the statement.

The military assured onlookers that it would at its operational processes that allowed such a error but placed the blame on the US for a heightened state of security.

"Following the threats of the US President and the military commanders to target a large number of targets in the territory the Islamice Republic's Arrmed Forces were at the highest level of readiness," it said.

This caused more sensitivity in air defense units according to the military statements and the Ukrainian 737 was reportedly in close proximity to a sensitive military centre.

The statement from the military is a departure from the previous line that stresses that no missle had hit the Ukrainian passenger plane.

Just yesterday Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran's national aviation department said that Western intelligence was wrong.

Mr Abedzadeh said that he was certain that the airliner which crashed outside Tehran was not hit by a missile.

"The thing that is clear to us and that we can say with certainty is that this plane was not hit by a missile," Ali Abedzadeh told reporters, with Iranian government spokesman, Ali Rabiei, accusing the US and its allies of "lying and engaging in psychological warfare" in their speculation over the cause of the accident.

Mr Abedzadeh's statements came after the US, UK, Canadian and even Australian intelligence sources put the blame on Iran.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra that Australia had received similiar intelligence to Canada and it did not suggest an intentional act.

"It's absolutely critical that a full and transparent investigation is undertaken into this terrible event and that would include undertaking all efforts to ensure we get recovery of the black box recorder that can obviously inform that investigation," he said.

More to come.

With AP wires.