Red Crescent workers check the debris from the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 that crashed killing all 176 on board 

Iran has admitted that its military made an “unforgivable mistake” in unintentionally shooting down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people onboard, after days of rejecting western intelligence reports that pointed to Tehran being responsible.

A military statement early on Saturday via state TV blamed “human error” for the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 on Wednesday in the tense aftermath of strikes on US targets. It was followed by an apology from Iran’s president.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded on Saturday morning that Iran must make an official apology and agree to a full investigation and compensation, as well as co-operating with Ukraine’s own investigators. “Our 45 professionals should have full access and co-operation to establish justice,” a statement from the presidency said.

Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, wrote on Saturday: “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”