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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Iranian Missile System Shot Down Ukrainian Plane Over Tehran By Mistake

Ukraine  plane crash, Iran, Tehran

The Ukrainian airplane that crashed outside of Tehran on Tuesday was mistakenly struck down by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile system, U.S. weekly Newsweek reported Thursday, citing a Pentagon official and a senior American intelligence official.

According to Newsweek, who also spoke to an Iraqi intelligence official, the Ukraine International Airlines flight that was en route from the Iranian capital to Kiev, was hit by a Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system.

The U.S. Central Command did not comment on the report by the Newsweek.

Ukraine  plane crash, Iran, Tehran

Ukraine  plane crash, Iran, Tehran

Later on Thursday, three U.S. officials said they believe that the Ukrainian plane was shot down by an Iranian missile, citing satellite data.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the issue.

U.S. President Donald Trump said that the deadly crash could have been a mistake, adding that he had a terrible feeling about the downed airliner but offering no evidence.

"Somebody could have made a mistake," Trump told reporters at a the White House, adding that he had suspicions about the crash but giving no other details.

Earlier Thursday, the secretary of the Ukrainian Security Council, Oleksiy Danylov, said that one of the potential causes for the airplane's destruction that his country is probing is contact with a Russian-manufactured Tor M-1 system.

The incident, which claimed the lives of all 176 people on board, came after the U.S. killed last week the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani – an attack that has sparked concerns that a new war will be waged in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, an initial Iranian investigative report said Thursday that the crew of the plane never made a radio call for help and was trying to turn back for the airport when the burning plane went down.

The Iranian report suggests that a sudden emergency struck the Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines early on Wednesday morning, when it crashed, just minutes after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran.

Investigators from Iran's Civil Aviation Organization offered no immediate explanation for the disaster, however. Iranian officials initially blamed a technical malfunction for the crash, something initially backed by Ukrainian officials before they said they wouldn't speculate amid an ongoing investigation.

Ukraine's leader said Iranian President Hassan Rohani has assured him of full cooperation in investigating the fatal crash and that Iran would provide experts access to all data.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke with Rohani by telephone on Thursday.

A statement on the Ukrainian presidential website says: “The Iranian party assured full cooperation with a view to holding an objective investigation and finding out the causes of the tragedy. Hassan Rouhani stressed that Iran would provide the Ukrainian expert group with prompt access to all the necessary data.”

The crash came just a few hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack against Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops.

[ By Haaretz ]

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