An Eastern European carrier in conflict prone Iran accidentally collided with a deadly projectile during takeoff, U.S. intelligence officials have revealed.
A Department of Defense official has confirmed the Iranian military mistakenly shot down Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 while deploying anti aircraft missiles that were supposed to target two military bases housing American and coalition soldiers on Jan. 8.
“[The attack was] an absolute tragedy,” a Pentagon official told Fox News. “They just screwed up and it is tragic.”
The commercial plane had just taken off from the capitol’s Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport when some of the dozen or so Russian made ballistic missiles struck the aircraft and killed all 176 people on board.
The official claimed a Russian-made SA15 missile, which is part of the Tor surface-to-air missile system, brought a violent end to the flight.
Russia previously delivered 29 Tor-M1 systems to Iran back in 2007 as part of a $700 million deal reached just two years earlier. Iran has displayed the missiles in military parades according to the broadcaster.
The remarks came despite Iran’s Civil Aviation Authority denial of “illogical” rumors that a missile had caused the plane to crash.
“Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumors are illogical,” authority head Ali Abedzadeh said according to Reuters.
Ukraine’s Security Council had previously suspected a tor missile system could have been responsible for the plane crash.
“A strike by a missile, possibly a Tor missile system, is among the main (theories), as information has surfaced on the internet about elements of a missile being found near the site of the crash,” Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said according to Fox News.
Danilov also suspected a drone or another flying object crashed into the plane, terrorist attack, or an engine malfunction that could cause an explosion as possible causes.
Iranian armed forces spokesman Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi previously denied a missile had struck the airplane and rejected any suggestion of “psychological warfare” from Iranian opposition groups in other countries.
The U.S. president had also cast doubt over Iran’s earlier allegation that a mechanical failure caused the disaster.
“It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood,” President Trump said. “Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”
No terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the plane was less than four years old. The crash happened a few hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack against Iraqi military bases housing U.S. soldiers.