Ukrainian plane ‘was shot down by missile’, say Western leaders

Ukrainian plane ‘was shot down by missile’, say Western leaders
Published: 10 January 2020 - 5 a.m.

The Ukrainian passenger jet which crashed near Tehran was shot down by an Iranian missile, Western leaders have suggested.

Flight PS752 crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran airport, killing 176 people, including citizens from Iran, Ukraine, Canada, the UK, Sweden and Germany among other countries.

The crash came just hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at US forces in Iraq in retaliation to a drone strike on a top Iranian general, authorised by President Donald Trump.

Senior US officials and the Pentagon have been quoted by media outlets saying they have intelligence sources providing evidence of a missile strike.

They claim that satellites detected two missile launches and were able to identify the projectiles as Russian-made Tor surface-to-air missiles.

A video obtained by CNN appears to show a missile striking an object in the sky at around the same time the Boeing 737 began to fall to earth.

The crash has been surrounded by speculation with many commentators and media outlets suggesting that the Boeing 737 may have been mistaken for a US military jet as Iran braced for potential retaliation from America.

Ukraine’s prime minister initially ruled out a missile strike among the causes of the crash but later retracted this statement, saying it was “too early” to draw conclusions.

Iran denies that the plane was struck by one of its missiles.

Iran's Civil Aviation Organisation (CAOI) chief Ali Abedzadeh said: "The plane, which was initially headed west to leave the airport zone, turned right following a problem and was headed back to the airport at the moment of the crash."

He added: “Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumours are illogical.”

Investigations into the crash

There were fears the investigations into the crash would be frustrated as Iran’s civil aviation chief was quoted by media saying that the country would not hand over the plane’s black box to US firm Boeing, which manufactured the plane.

But an Iranian official later told Reuters that the US had been formally invited to join the investigation and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it had assigned an investigator.

Iranian officials also ‘urged’ Boeing to join the investigation and assess data from the black box, according to media reports.

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