The aftermath of a missile mayhem

Monty Stites, Editor In Chief

2020 began with  an explosive start when on Jan. 3, one of Iran’s ranking military members, Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, was killed in an American drone strike shortly after arriving in Baghdad.  The strike took place near Baghdad International Airport, a move which has resulted in an Iraqi parliament vote asking that the prime minister revoke Iran’s invitation for U.S. military access granted to help defeat the Islamic State caliphate. The Trump Administration’s decision to target and kill Soleimani has widely been reported as an assassination. As a result, Iran has withdrawn from their commitments to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.  

In response Soleimani’s death, Iranian Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene, threatened that “severe revenge” would befall the United States.  On Jan. 8, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles, targeting two military bases in Iraq that house American service members. There were no casualties reported by either American or Iraqi forces.

Retaliating to the Iranian airstrikes, the Trump Administration to increased sanctions on Iran and Iranian officials.  However, the targeted bases were not the only things casualties of Iranian missiles. A few hours after the attack, a Ukranian passenger plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 176 onboard–82 Iranian nationals, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukranians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three British and three Germans. 

Iran initially denied responsibility for the crash in the immediate aftermath, a denial rebuked by both United States and Canadian officials, as well as cell phone footage depicting an explosion followed by a plane burning as it crashed to the ground. 

On Jan. 11, Iran admitted that human error during the high alert situation stemming from the earlier missile strike cause personnel to confuse the plane for an American missile as it turned towards an IRGC compound. The aircraft was subsequently shot down.  General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who leads the IRGC aerospace division, said in a Saturday morning briefing that the division takes “full responsibility” for the downed plane and the lives lost onboard. 

In a statement posted to Twitter, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, “Human error at a time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster.  Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all the victims, and to other affected nations.”

This is a developing story. We will continue to update readers on unfolding events in addition to an examination of how tensions between the United States and Iran devolved, thus prompting the aforementioned series of events.