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A timeline of the Ukraine plane crash and Iran’s conflicting statements

candlelight vigil ukraine jet iran
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi
A candlelight vigil for the victims of the Ukraine plane crash at the gate of Amri Kabir University in Tehran.
By John Detrixhe
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Sometimes it’s not the deed but the coverup. Demonstrators in Tehran are calling for accountability after Iranian officials admitted shooting down an Ukrainian jetliner, killing everyone aboard, reversing their initial denials.

Protesters are questioning the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ competence and urging the resignation of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader. It follows a fraught 10-day period that began when US president Donald Trump ordered a rocket strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, ratcheting up tensions and likely putting the country’s missile defense systems on high alert:

  • Jan. 7: Hundreds of thousands of Iranians take to the streets to mourn Soleimani at his funeral procession. At Tehran University, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei leads funeral ceremonies.
  • Jan. 8: Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 crashes shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s airport, killing all 176 people aboard. Most passengers are Iranian and Iranian-Canadian, and the crew is Ukrainian.
  • Jan. 8: An initial report from Iran’s civil aviation organization says the plane had an unspecified technical program that caused the crash, according to Reuters.
  • Jan. 8: After initially indicating the Ukraine airliner crashed because of an accident, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky calls, in a Facebook post, for a full investigation.
  • Jan. 9: US and allied officials say their intelligence shows the Ukrainian airliner was shot down by an Iranian missile, the New York Times reports.
  • Jan. 9: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau says intelligence shows that the aircraft was shot down by an Iranian missile, according to CBC News.
  • Jan. 10: Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s civil aviation organization, tells a televised news conference that he is “certain that no missiles hit the aircraft,” according to the Washington Post. Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei says the US is making the events even more painful for bereaved families by claiming the airliner was brought down by an Iranian missile.
  • Jan. 11: Iran’s military admits it shot down the Ukrainian airliner by mistake, claiming the plane made a sharp turn that brought it near a sensitive military base, the New York Times reports. An official walks back the claim a few hours later, saying the aircraft was flying normally.
  • Jan. 11: Iranian president Hassan Rouhani says on Twitter that the country’s armed forces had “regrettably” found that missiles fired due to human error caused the crash of the Ukrainian plane. Reuters reports that Amirali Hajizadeh, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, says he accepts full responsibility for the crash.
  • Jan. 12: Thousands in Tehran protest the government’s coverup and call for supreme leader Khamenei to resign, chanting “Death to liars!” and “Death to the dictator!” according to the New York Times, citing social media.

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