Iran said Tuesday that dozens of people had been arrested for the seemingly involuntary demolition of the Islamic Republic of a Ukrainian plane last week. The arrests occur amid Iranian votes to fully and openly investigate the firing of the ground-to-air missile that shot down the plane, killing the 176 people on board.
But while Iran confessed to having shot down the plane, three days after the fact and under intense international pressure, its president said Tuesday that the “fundamental causes” of the tragedy were the actions of the United States.
“It was the United States that caused such an incident,” Iran’s state-controlled news agency Tasnim said, citing President Hassan Rouhani. The Iranian regime blamed the Trump administration for increasing tensions with the controversial decision to kill Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone attack on January 2 in Baghdad.
Iranian forces shot down the plane hours after launching a barrage of ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq that housed hundreds of US forces, in retaliation for the murder of Soleimani. Tehran authorities have said their forces were on high alert for any US response to the missile attack, and the operator who fired on the plane believed it was an incoming US missile.
Iran’s attack on the bases did not kill anyone, but US officials have dismissed speculation that Iran may have deliberately lost troops in an attempt to avoid further escalation of hostilities with the US. UU.
US forces in Iraq had “several hours” of warning that an Iranian attack was coming, a senior US official told CBS News on Monday. But US troops at the main base attacked by Iran told CBS News, and many still cannot believe that everyone escaped unharmed. An American commander said that Iran was “shooting to kill.”