Iran blames bad communication, alignment for jet shootdown

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FILE – In this Jan. 8, 2020 file photo, rescue workers search the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of Tehran, Iran. Iranian investigators are blaming a misaligned missile battery and miscommunication between soldiers and their commanders for the Revolutionary Guard shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner in January, killing 176 people. The report released late Saturday, July 11, 2020 by Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization comes months after the crash. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian investigators are blaming a misaligned missile battery and miscommunication between soldiers and their commanders for the Revolutionary Guard shooting down a Ukrainian jetliner in January, killing 176 people.

The report released late Saturday by Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization comes months after the Jan. 8 crash near Tehran, which authorities for days denied having hand in.

The shootdown happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting U.S. soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone strike that killed Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

At the time Iranian troops were bracing for a U.S. counterstrike and appear to have mistaken the plane for a missile.

The report detailed a series of moments where the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 could have been avoided.

The report said the surface-to-air missile battery that targeted the Boeing 737-800 had been relocated and was not properly reoriented.

Those manning the missile battery could not communicate with their command center, they misidentified the civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without getting approval from ranking officials, the report said.

“If each had not arisen, the aircraft would not have been targeted,” the report said.

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Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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