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January 12, 2020

Loss of life


January 12, 2020

A large number of airline passengers who should today be alive and at their homes are dead. The Iranian authorities have accepted that they made a fatal mistake caused by ‘human error’ in shooting down Ukrainian Airline flight number 752 which took off from Tehran for Kiev. The missile attack on the aircraft occurred at the same time as Iran began missile attacks in Iraq on US air bases in that country. Iran has claimed scores of lives were lost in those attacks, the US has said there was no human damage. But regardless of the claims and counterclaims, what we do know is that 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians and a number of people from other places around the world will never return home. It is unclear precisely why and how the error occurred.

Conflict, no matter where it occurs, takes away lives and inflicts huge misery on families. The heightened tensions between Iran and the US were of course triggered by the murder of General Qasim Suleimani at Iraq Airport a few days before the terrible mishap involving the passenger airliner which was brought to the ground minutes after it took off. There are claims the Iranian radar misinterpreted the passenger flight as a war plane, and experts suggest that this is one reason why closing down airspace should always be thought about in times of conflict or possible aerial attack. The series of events triggered by President Donald Trump’s action against Soleimani have truly assumed the most tragic possible proportions. There are also reports that on the same day as Soleimani’s death, the US had attempted to attack another Iranian commander in Yemen.

The consequences of what has happened will badly affect people. The new US sanctions imposed on Iran will most badly hit its people, many already facing increased hardship as a result of previous sanctions. There is nothing that can be done to bring back lost lives. But the incidents which have occurred should deliver to the world a warning of why it is never wise to allow tensions to accelerate or carry out acts of insanity such as the deliberate targeting of a hugely popular commander which can have an effect on so many other lives and so many other families.

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