Iran on Saturday admitted to shooting down the Ukrainian plane that crashed early on Wednesday after taking off from the capital city of Tehran, leaving 176 innocent people dead.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the aircraft, which had flown close to a sensitive military site belonging to the elite Revolutionary Guards, was shot down “unintentionally due to human error”.

Taking to Twitter, President Rouhani said: “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.”

“Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. #PS752,” he added.

President Rouhani also offered his apologies and condolences.

On Wednesday, the Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS75 crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran that killed 176 people on board.

The Iranian military also put out a statement earlier today stating that the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military centre” of the Revolutionary Guard. It also blamed the “highest level of readiness” resulting from tensions with the United States.

The admission comes after Iranian officials vehemently denied claims that they had mistakenly shot the jet and accused the United States of “spreading lies” about intelligence suggesting they did.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted his “profound regrets, apologies, and condolences” to the families of the victims.

Zarif wrote, “A sad day,”, adding to it, he said, “Preliminary conclusions of an internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at the time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster. Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”

The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing US forces in retaliation to the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

The United States and Canada had said that the plane was shot down.

The Boeing 737-800 is a very common single-aisle, twin-engine jetliner used for short to medium-range flights. Thousands of planes are used by airlines around the world.