Under pressure, Iran admits it shot down jetliner by mistake
We have several long threads filled with speculation and innuendo and other subjective impressions. What we need is a fact-filled and well sourced report on what happened.
Here is a start in that direction:
"Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Saturday acknowledged that it accidentally shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 people aboard, after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations and mounting evidence that it was responsible.
The plane was shot down early Wednesday, hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad. No one was hurt in the attack on the U.S. bases.
The admission raised a host of new questions, such as why Iran did not shut down its international airport or airspace when it was bracing for a U.S. reprisal. It also undermined the credibility of information provided by senior officials, who for three days had adamantly dismissed allegations of a missile strike as Western propaganda.
Iran's acknowledgment also alters the narrative around its confrontation with the U.S. in a way that could anger the Iranian public. Iran had promised harsh revenge after Soleimani's death, but instead of killing American soldiers, its forces downed a civilian plane in which most passengers were Iranian and none survived.
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guard's aerospace division, said his unit accepts full responsibility for the shootdown. In an address broadcast by state TV, he said that when he learned about the downing of the plane, “I wished I was dead.”
He said he raised the possibility to his superiors that his forces shot down the plane as early as Wednesday morning because “the simultaneous occurrence of the launch and crash was suspicious.”
Hajizadeh said Guard forces ringing the capital had beefed up their air defenses and were at the “highest level of readiness,” fearing that the U.S. would retaliate. He said he suggested Tehran should close its airspace but no action was taken.
He said the airline's pilot and crew had done nothing wrong, but an officer made the “bad decision” to open fire on the plane after mistaking it for a cruise missile.
“We were prepared for an all-out conflict,” he said.
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.”
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the crash investigation should continue and the “perpetrators” should be brought to justice. He said Iran should compensate victims' families, and he requested “official apologies through diplomatic channels.”
The Ukrainian airline criticized Iran's decision to leave its airspace open despite the hostilities.
“It's absolutely irresponsible,” Ukraine International Airlines vice president Ihor Sosnovskiy told reporters. “There must be protection around ordinary people. If they are shooting somewhere from somewhere, they are obliged to close the airport."
[. . .]
President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged Iran's responsibility but blamed the downing of the plane in part on “threats and bullying” by the United States after the killing of Soleimani. He expressed condolences, calling for a full investigation and the prosecution of those responsible. "
There is more information at that linked source, if you are interested.