Iran started 2020 by losing Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (IRGC-QF), during a U.S.-drone strike in Baghdad. In response, authorities took harsh revenge—not on the U.S. but on Iranian citizens.
On January 8, the IRGC Aerospace Forces (IRGC-AF) bragged about a massive missile attack on U.S. troops hosted in Ain al-Assad base, northern Iraq. The attack left no casualties among the “Great Satan’s infantry.” However, several hours later, the IRGC-AF shot down a commercial flight, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board.
Iranian officials immediately denied the IRGC’s involvement in the incident. They continued their denials for three days until reliable satellite evidence and footage proved that two missiles downed the Flight PS752 of the Ukrainian Airlines.
On January 11, IRGC-AF chief Amir-Ali Hajizadeh admitted that the IRGC air defense system shot down the airplane. However, he outlined “human error” as the reason for the villainous tragedy. He also admitted that he and his superiors knew that the IRGC anti-aircraft system had targeted the jetliner at the beginning hours.
However, after more than 11 months, Iranian authorities gave no answers to grieving families and international parties whose people were on the plane. According to international aviation laws, Tehran should lead the investigation, which permitted it to wipe away its footprints.
In such circumstances, when the reason comes to military activities, outsider analysis is further restricted. Sovereignty is afforded to the perpetrator and the review is essentially eliminated when that country does not have an independent civil aviation authority or transparent judicial system, which Iran does not.
In their ‘investigations,’ judiciary officials raised ridiculous explanations to downplay the IRGC’s crime. Despite routine night vision, video, radar, and other identification systems, Tehran claims that “the operator was apparently unable to distinguish friend from foe.”
This is while the 40-meter-long civilian jetliner had just taken off from Khomeini international airport. If these words were right, how could Iranian officials dare use their private and smaller airliners? Furthermore, the enemies’ missiles or fighters were undoubtedly supposed to come from western borders, not from the country’s heart to the border.
Iranian officials also say, “The operator acted unilaterally and fired two surface-to-air missiles.” This is another ironic excuse because if it was true, this act is in direct violation of applicable procedures not to fire at all without his command center’s authorization.
In such a scenario, aside from any consequence, the operator had acted as a rogue element that wasted defense reserves. Therefore, this violation should have made the operator and the assistant accountable and prone to be prosecuted in a military court.
The fact that evidence clearly shows the reason was not a ‘human error’ as a significant number of other commercial passenger jets took off and landed at the international airport before and after PS752 without being attacked. On the other hand, even if there was a human error, why did the authorities initially downplay the event and lay blame on the pilot and airliner’s manufacturer? Why did they delay to hand over the black box for six months?
Based on these undeniable documents and reasons, on December 16, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne said in an interview with CBC News that he doesn’t believe Iran when it says Flight 752 was shot down as a result of human error.
Earlier, in a 74-page report, Canada’s special adviser on the federal response to Iran’s shootdown of the airliner Ralph Goodale rejected Tehran’s ‘investigations.’ “There are indications of incompetence, recklessness and wanton disregard for innocent human life. It is incumbent upon Iran to respond to these concerns in candid and compelling terms or risk the loss of international confidence in its ability to maintain a safe airspace,” Goodale noted.
Tehran is not eligible to lead the investigations. Iranian authorities would never investigate themselves, not least since their record includes arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial executions, and gross human rights violations. Therefore, the countries that lost their citizens must refer the case to the United Nations Security Council and call for an impartial and international trial.