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Missile Operator's Breach Of Rules Downed Ukrainian Plane, Iran Defense Minister Says

Defense Minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami. FILE PHOTO

Outspoken former lawmaker Mahmoud Sadeqi (Sadeghi) on Friday disclosed that officials have found the operator of the missile system that downed a Ukrainian plane in January responsible for the incident.

In a tweet on May 22 Sadeqi said that the Defense Minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami on Tuesday responded to his official parliamentary enquiry on the causes of the downing of the plane.

Sadeqi whose term of office in parliament has just ended had submitted his official inquiry on April 23. Ministers are required to respond in writing or in person to such inquiries.

According to Sadeqi, Hatami has said that the reason for firing at the Ukrainian passenger plane was the missile operator's violation of regulations on taking action without "acquiring permission" to fire in the prevailing conditions at the time. The operator has also been accused of not communicating, presumably with the command center, and relying on "vague information" by the Defense Ministry, according to Hatami.

Sadeqi's inquiry required the Defense Minister to explain the reasons behind "the lack of coordination in the national air defense network" which resulted in firing two missiles at the passenger plane over Tehran.

The missiles were fired at the plane hours after Iran launched a massive missile attack on two military bases in Iraq that hosted U.S. troops. The attack was a retaliation of the targeted killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani by the United States in Baghdad on January 3.

On April 4 Shokrollah Bahrami, Head of the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces, said that one person had been detained and was being investigated for the firing of the missiles.

For three days the authorities denied having anything to do with the crash and when the Armed Forces Central Command finally admitted that the plane had been shot down with missiles, it was attributed to "mistake" and "human error".

The downing of the plane that killed all the 176 passengers and crew members onboard and lying about it prompted protests in several cities during which according to the Judiciary tens of protesters were arrested.