It is “highly likely” That Iran shot down a Ukrainian civilian jetliner crashing late Tuesday near Tehran, killing all 176 people on board, U.S., Canadian and British officials said Thursday. We said the fiery missile strike might have been a mistake in the region-wide rocket launches and high tension.
A few hours after Iran launched a ballistic attack on Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops in its violent confrontation with Washington over the U.S. drone strike that killed a general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the crash came. The airliner might have been mistaken for a threat, four U.S. officials said, speaking to share sensitive intelligence on condition of anonymity.
In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose country lost at least 63 people in the catastrophe, said: “We have information from multiple sources from our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft.
Similar statements were also made by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Morrison said it seemed to be a mistake as well. “All the intelligence presented to us today does not suggest a deliberate act,” he said.
The estimate that the Iranian-U.S. killed 176 civilians as collateral damage. Conflict cast a new shadow on what seemed to be a relatively calm aftermath after the U.S. military action that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani of Iran.
How the U.S. and its allies would react was not immediately clear. Despite efforts by Washington and Tehran to step back from the brink of possible war, after the killing of the Iranian general and the retaliatory missile strikes by Iran, the region remained on the brink. There were U.S. troops on high alert.
President Donald Trump indicated at the White House that he believed Iran was responsible for the shootdown and rejected the initial claim of Iran that the plane was a mechanical issue.
“On the other side, someone might have made a mistake.” Trump said, adding that the aircraft was flying in a “pretty rough neighborhood.”
The United States late Thursday House approved a measure aimed at blocking any additional military action against Iran without Congressional approval. The resolution passed by the House of the Democratic Majority is non-binding, however, and the Republican-controlled Senate could not pass any similar measure at all.
As for the shootdown of the airliner, U.S. officials wouldn’t say what information they had on an Iranian missile, suspected to be launched by the Russian Tor weapon, known to NATO as the SA-15. But they recognized the existence of the region’s satellites and other sensors, as well as the likelihood of interceptions of communication and other similar intelligence.
The New York Times posted a video on Thursday, saying it had verified the moment the apparent missile hit the aircraft over Iran. The video shows an object that rises rapidly before a fiery explosion. An object, seemingly on fire, then moves in another direction.
A preliminary Iranian investigative report released on Thursday said the airliner pilots never made a radio call for help and the aircraft was trying to turn back to the airport when the burning aircraft came down.
The Iranian report suggested that the Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines was hit by a sudden emergency late Tuesday when it crashed just minutes after departure from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.
Nonetheless, Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization investigators gave no clear explanation for the tragedy. Iranian officials initially blamed the crash for a technical malfunction, something Ukrainian officials backed before saying they wouldn’t speculate in the midst of an ongoing investigation.
Before the U.S. assessment, Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA quoted Hasan Rezaeifa, head of the investigation commission for civil aviation accidents, claiming that “rocket, missile or anti-aircraft system topics are excluded.” Ukrainian International Airlines started at 6:12 a.m. Tehran time on Wednesday, after almost an hour’s delay at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport, Iran’s main airport for travelers. According to both the report and the flight tracking data, it gained altitude heading west, reaching almost 8,000 feet.
Then something went wrong, although “no radio messages about unusual situations were received from the pilot,” the report said. Pilots reach air traffic controllers in emergencies to warn them and clear the runway for their arrival, although their first priority is to keep the aircraft flying.
Seeing the plane engulfed in flames before crashing at 6:18 a.m., eyewitnesses, including the crew of another flight passing overhead, said the study. The crash caused a massive explosion when the plane hit the ground, probably because for the flight to Kyiv, Ukraine, the aircraft was fully loaded with fuel.
The report also confirmed that both of the aircraft’s “black boxes” containing data and cockpit communications had been recovered, despite sustaining damage and losing some parts of their memory.
Hours before the U.S. crash of the plane. The Federal Aviation Administration imposed an emergency flight restriction that prohibited U.S. airlines and pilots from flying over areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace from alert about the “potential for miscalculation or misidentification” of civilian aircraft due to increased political and military tensions.
Secretary of the Security Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, told Ukrainian media that officials had several theories about the crash, including a missile strike.
“A missile strike, possibly a Tor missile system, is one of the main theories, as information about elements of a missile being found near the crash site has surfaced on the internet,” Danilov said.
Ukrainian investigators arriving in Iran on Thursday were awaiting permission from Iranian authorities to examine the site of the crash and look for fragments of missiles, Danilov said.
The Tor is a missile system made by the Russians. In 2007, Russia delivered 29 Tor-M1s to Iran, and in military parades, Iran displayed the missiles.
Iran did not respond to Ukrainian comments immediately. Nonetheless, in a statement published Wednesday by the semiofficial Fars news agency, Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, the spokesperson for the Iranian armed forces, denied a missile hit the aircraft. He dismissed the accusation from foreign-based Iranian opposition groups as “psychological warfare.”
Ukraine has a dark history of missile attacks, including in July 2014, when one such strike killed all 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine.
According to authorities, the aircraft transported 167 passengers and nine members of the crew from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians. Many of the passengers were thought to be international students attending universities in Canada; after visiting with family during the winter break, they made their way back to Toronto via Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, “There is no doubt that identifying the causes of the plane crash is a priority for Ukraine. We’re sure to find out the truth. “In an aviation tragedy, the crash was among the worst losses of life for Canadians. Ottawa’s flag over Parliament was reduced to half-staff, and Prime Minister Trudeau vowed to get to the bottom of the disaster.
The U.S. accident prosecutor, the National Transportation Safety Board, speaks to the State Department and the Treasury Department about going to Iran to inspect the aircraft designed by the U.S. and collaborating with Iranian officials amid U.S. economic sanctions against the country. The NTSB stated in a statement on Thursday that it “continues to monitor and evaluate the situation surrounding the crash.