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Search and rescue workers at the site after a Boeing 737 plane belonging to a Ukrainian airline that crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport in Iran just after takeoff. Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran announced in a statement on Saturday (local time) that its military mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed on Wednesday, killing all passengers aboard, according to multiple reports.

What they're saying, per the Iranian military's statement: The Boeing 737 jetliner operated by Ukrainian International Airlines “took the flying posture and altitude of an enemy target” as it came close to an Iranian military base, and “under these circumstances, because of human error,” the plane “came under fire,” the New York Times writes.

  • Iran's General Staff of Armed Forces said Flight 752 was shot down "unintentionally" after departing from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, per a statement cited by the Washington Post.
  • In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the crash was the result of "U.S. adventuring," adding, "Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”

Context: Iran repeatedly denied accusations that it was responsible for the crash. The head of Iran's national aviation department said at a press conference on Friday, "What is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane."

  • U.S. and allied intelligence assessments indicated that Iranian missiles downed the aircraft amid increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
  • The New York Times obtained a video on Thursday that appears to show an Iranian missile hitting a Ukrainian airliner near Tehran's airport — where the flight "stopped transmitting its signal."
  • Wednesday's crash came hours after Iran fired missiles at two bases in Iraq that housed American forces in retaliation for the U.S. killing Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Go deeper... What we know: Ukrainian Boeing 737 crashes in Tehran

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

8 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.