A ghastly tragedy shows the madness of war


Iran has admitted that it shot down the Ukrainian airliner flight 752 that resulted in the deaths of 176 people and has issued an apology.

A military statement on state TV early on Saturday blamed “human error” for the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 on Wednesday in the tense aftermath of strikes on US targets. It was followed by an apology from Iran’s president and condolences from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, wrote: “A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by armed forces: human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster. Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”

The plane was mistaken for a hostile target after it turned towards a sensitive military centre of the Revolutionary Guards, according to the military statement, carried on the official IRNA news agency.

“The military was at its highest level of readiness” amid the heightened tensions with the US, it said, adding: “In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit.”

Iranian president Hasan Rouhani has called the shooting an “unforgivable mistake”.

In addition to the many deaths that are deliberately caused which are bad enough, the conditions of war and the heightened tensions result in tragedies of this kind happening, such as the shooting down by the Soviet Union of the Korean Air 007 in 1983 during the Cold War that resulted in 269 deaths and the shooting down by the US of the Iranian Airbus 655 during the Gulf War in 1988 that killed 290 people.

I cannot repeat it enough. War is a sign of madness.