176 civilians pay the price for U.S. drone strike on Soleimani

Rest in power. Wikimedia Commons

Flight 752 downed by missile

On Wed. Jan. 8, a Ukrainian airplane crashed in Tehran, killing all 167 passengers and nine crew members onboard. As of Jan. 10, it is reported that 57 Canadians are among the dead (initial reports said there were 63 Canadians on board but that number was lowered as the story developed). Due to the plane’s crash site being located on the outskirts of the capital, many were quick to point the finger at Iran to blame for the disaster.

Conflicts with Iran have heightened since the United States President, Donald Trump, ordered a drone air strike earlier in January. Trump stated that “[the United States] took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.” It was after this statement, and the country’s violent actions, that the Ukrainian airplane crashed.

Trump’s drone strike, which was aimed at a Baghdad airport, resulted in the death of an Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani. Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, was reported  CNN to have said that the United States’ action “started a military war” with Iran.

Days after the crash, Iran admitted to having mistakenly shot down the flight. This was after Iran launched missile strikes on an Iraqi air base hosting United States soldiers. After the attack, however, Ravanchi claimed that the strike was not launched with the intent to kill Americans.

Luckily, it did not. Trump reported after the attack that no American soldiers had been killed by the ballistic missile strike. Ravanchi stated when asked about the attack that “the target was chosen in order to show that we are capable of hitting the target where the plan to kill Soleimani was organized.”

It was days after the ballistic missile strike attack that the Ukrainian airplane was shot down by an Iranian missile.

However, days after the crash and days after public mourning began, Iran announced that they had mistakenly shot down the plane, and that the crash was unintentional. An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander stated that the crash was a result of his team reacting while on alert for “all-out-war,” according to Global News, and has accepted complete responsibility for the crash.

However, accepting responsibility for the crash does not remove the desperate need for answers faced by the communities struggling with loss. The University of Regina issued a statement in regards to the crash, stating that “the latest information from Universities Canada indicates that Canadian universities lost 47 people, including students, faculty, alumni, and incoming students. Twenty-one Canadian post-secondary institutions have been directly impacted.”

“At this time, it does not appear that any University of Regina students, faculty, or staff were onboard the flight although that information may still be subject to change,” U of R President Vianne Timmons wrote.

“While we may have been fortunate to not be directly affected, we are part of a national university community and we all share in the pain and grief those across the country and beyond are experiencing today.” Timmons concluded her letter with: “Please take care of yourselves and each other.”

On Jan. 12, a vigil was held in Edmonton for the Canadians killed in the tragedy. It was attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who, when addressing the nation on the day of the tragedy, stated that “the families of the victims and all Canadians want answers. I want answers. That means closure, accountability and justice.”

The rest of the country stands alongside him in wishing for the truth.

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