A commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has provided false information about an American missile attack, the airspace closure and cancellation of flights, leading to the activation of air defense systems that shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane over Tehran in 2020, new court documents reveal.

Flight PS752 was traveling from Tehran to Kyiv on January 8, 2020, when it was shot down by the IRGC, amid heightened tensions with the United States over the US drone assassination of top IRGC general, Qasem Soleimani, near Baghdad. All 176 passengers and crew of Flight PS752 were killed.

Four years after the tragedy, fresh details emerged regarding the perpetrators and the sequence of events that led to the plane’s destruction.

This information has been gleaned from documents, statements and proceedings in the Tehran military court, which were conducted behind closed doors in the presence of some victims’ families.

According to statements and documents from the Second Branch of the Military Court in Tehran, the Tor-M1 missile system battery which shot down Flight PS752 was deployed near Imam Khomeini Airport.

This deployment was carried out under the orders of Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic, to protect the missile positions of the IRGC.

Khamenei’s secret order to transfer the missile system was presented in court.

The court learned that the system, under the command of Brigadier General Mohammad Fallah of the IRGC Aerospace Force, was positioned near Tehran’s international airport to protect the IRGC’s Bid Ganeh missile depot and the Amir al-Momenin missile base.

Three days before the incident, then-President Donald Trump threatened to hit as many as 52 targets in Iran if the Islamic Republic posed a threat to US citizens or interests.

The defendants at the military court asserted that Iran’s Integrated Air Defense Network, which is responsible for protecting the country’s airspace and civilian planes, was unaware of the deployment of two IRGC missile system batteries near the airport.

In the hours leading up to the tragedy, the missile system lost contact with the command center.

Approximately an hour before the downing, IRGC Colonel Gholamrezazadeh falsely informed Captain Khosravi, the system’s commander, that the US had attacked the missile communications center, rendering communication impossible. As a result, the missile system was deactivated.

Gholamrezazadeh told Khosravi that the US missile attack had led to the closure of the country’s airspace, the suspension of flights and the shutting down of Imam Khomeini Airport.

Gholamrezazadeh urged Khosravi to reactivate the Tor-M1 missile system, saying that a cruise missile was approaching Tehran’s air defense ring.

Meanwhile, Flight PS752 received permission to take off from the airport and fly toward Ukraine’s capital via the international air corridor.

Despite war alert conditions and IRGC missile attacks on a US airbase in Iraq following Soleimani’s killing, Iran’s airspace remained open, in contravention to Iran’s obligations to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The final permission for the aircraft to fly was granted by the IRGC Air Control Center, led by Colonel Dwood Jafari, the deputy chief of the IRGC Air Defense in Tehran.

The Integrated Air Defense Network was unaware of the presence of the IRGC mobile missile system near the airport and allowed the Ukrainian plane to take off.

Colonel Jafari, who did not attend the military court sessions, was reported by the Islamic Republic to have been killed in an Israeli attack in Damascus in December 2020.

Tehran initially denied IRGC’s involvement in the downing of Flight PS 752 but later attributed the incident to an “unintentional human error” following pressure from the international community.

Iran’s swift clearing of the crash scene, the confiscation of the passengers’ communication equipment, and the prolonged retention of the plane’s black boxes raised concerns about the authorities’ intentions.

Last year, Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Ukraine took the Islamic Republic to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in their bid to hold Tehran accountable for the tragedy.

Source » iranwire