Head of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has accepted full responsibility for the downing of a Ukraine aircraft which crashed near the capital Tehran earlier this week.
Speaking on Saturday, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said he had "wished he could die" after being informed of the matter on the same day the crash took place on Wednesday.
Hajizadeh said he had notified related authorities immediately but that public announcement of the matter was pending an investigation of Iranís General Staff of the Armed Forces as required by existing procedures.
"Neither the IRGC nor the Armed Forces never intended to cover up, but this was a process that had to be perused," he said, adding that concerned individuals had been quarantined.
He added that further judgment on the matter was the responsibility of the higher authorities and the judiciary and that "we will comply with any decision taken by them".
The remarks come after Iranís General Staff of the Armed Forces put out a statement saying the Ukrainian plane was shot down "unintentionally" due to "human error" earlier on Saturday.
The statement added that those found guilty would be brought to military justice.
The incident happened as Iran had "raised the sensitivity" of its air defenses due to increased hostile American aerial activity which came after "threats by the criminal American president and military commanders" to hit Iranian targets, the statement read.
All 176 crew members and passengers, 147 of whom were Iranians, died in the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) crash which came a few minutes after take-off from Tehran to Kiev on Wednesday.
‘Our system detected a cruise missileí
Detailing the events which led to the tragic incident, Hajizadeh said the countryís air defense networks had been put on the "highest level of readiness" and alerted to a possible cruise missile attack prior to the incident.
The IRGC aerospace chief added that the operator manning the system had repeatedly called for a halt in flights in the region during the night.
He added that the operator then identified what his air defense system had detected as an incoming cruise missile 19 kilometers away.
The operator, as required by military guidelines then proceeded to call for orders to deal with the perceived threat, but wasnít able to do so as his communication network failed to work.
Hajizadeh added that the operator then "took the wrong decision" of firing on the perceived threat in a "ten-second" time span to shoot or ignore the flying object.
The aerospace chief added that Iranís aviation authorities had no information regarding the matter and that they, along with the planeís crew, had conducted no wrongdoing in the incident.
Hajizadeh also said the General Staff of the Armed Forcesís Friday statement regarding the matter was released after it was established that certain parties were guilty over the incident.