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Pentagon and Iraqi officials claim that a Ukrainian Airlines flight that crashed after leaving Tehran Tuesday night was shot down by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile system, according to multiple reports.
The Ukrainian flight that crashed just outside the Iranian capital of Tehran was struck by an anti-aircraft missile system, a Pentagon official, a senior U.S. intelligence official and an Iraqi intelligence official told Newsweek.
Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a Boeing 737–800 en route from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airpot to Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport, stopped transmitting data Tuesday just minutes after takeoff and not long after Iran launched missiles at military bases housing U.S. and allied forces in neighboring Iraq. The aircraft is believed to have been struck by a Russia-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system, known to NATO as Gauntlet, the three officials told Newsweek.
Two Pentagon officials assess that the incident was accidental. Iran’s anti-aircraft were likely active following the country’s missile attack, which came in response to the U.S. killing last week of Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, sources said. (The killing of Soleimani was a response to the storming of US compound in Baghdad)
Following the incident, Iranian state media initially reported that the plane had crashed due to “technical issues,” and Iran’s head of the country’s civil aviation organization said Wednesday he would not hand over the recovered black boxes to the United States.
In a statement Thursday, Ali Abedzadeh dismissed allegations the plane was shot down, saying it was “scientifically impossible and such rumors make no sense at all.”
“We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information,” Boeing said in a statement after the crash.
The debris had been rumored to include remains of a Tor missile, but it’s the verified pictures from the crash site that raises questions. Some of the pieces on the ground have tell-tale holes through them that strongly suggest a missile strike.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed Thursday for an investigation “to find out the causes of the tragedy.”
“We will definitely find out the truth. We will conduct a detailed and independent investigation,” Zelensky said.