U.S. officials, on Thursday, Jan. 9, expressed “high confidence” that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed a Ukrainian passenger jet near Tehran, killing all 176 on board.
The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the fatal crash, said U.S. authorities believe that an SA-15 surface-to-air missile, a Russian-made system also known as Tor air-defense batteries, hit the plane, according to Washington Post.
President Donald Trump, speaking from the White House, said the downing of the passenger aircraft was likely a “mistake.”
“Well, I have my suspicions. I don’t want to say that because other people have those suspicions also,” said President Trump, who added, “Somebody could’ve made a mistake on the other side.”
“Some people say it was mechanical. Personally, I don’t think that’s even a question,” President Trump told reporters at the White House.
European intelligence officials also arrived at the same conclusion—that Iran had shot down, in error, the Ukrainian passenger plane, killing everyone on board.
A Pentagon official revealed that discussions are happening and that intelligence was still being assessed. “You don’t know until you know,” the Pentagon official said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
On Thursday afternoon, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, according to a BBC report, that evidence suggests an Iranian missile had brought down the passenger plane.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional,” said Trudeau.
“This new information reinforces the need for a thorough investigation into this matter,” said Trudeau to determine the causes of the fatal crash that occurred just hours after Iran launched a series of missile strikes on two U.S. airbases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Iran’s state media reported that the crash resulted from an engine fire due to a technical fault. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, the spokesman of the Iranian armed forces, denied that a missile had hit the Boeing 737 bound for Kyiv.
Iran stated that it would not hand over the recovered black box flight recorders to Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer, or to the United States.
Passengers on the jetliner came from seven different countries—Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, the UK, and Germany.
The victims comprised 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians, according to the BBC report. A total of 147 victims were Iranian, indicating that many of the foreign nationals had dual nationality.