Iran says 'unintentionally' shot down Ukrainian airliner

Iran said it unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian airliner that crashed, killing 176 people, calling it an 'unforgivable mistake'.

The Ukraine International Airlines plane came down on Wednesday shortly after Iran launched missiles at bases hosting American forces in Iraq in response to the killing of Qasem Soleimani, one of Iran's top generals, in a U.S drone strike.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted.

"Armed Forces' internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people," he added.

"Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake."

Earlier, Iran's official IRNA news agency had published a statement from the military saying the Boeing 737 was mistaken for a 'hostile plane' at a time when enemy threats were at the highest level.