As AMN reported earlier, a Malaysian Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine, a passenger plane with 295 aboard, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile near the Russian border. Russian Separatists have backed away from their initial claims of responsibility, now that they have found out it was a civilian jet.
AP: The airline, the same one whose plane disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March, confirmed only that “an incident” had occurred involving the Boeing 777, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. “Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam,” read a tweet from the airline. “The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow,” read a tweet from Malaysia Airlines’ account. Multiple reports said the plane was shot down at cruising altitude. Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister told The Associated press that the plane, carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew people onboard, was shot down.
All 295 aboard have been killed in the crash.
Though Russian separatists initially took responsibility for downing the plane, they have since backtracked from that claim, not wanting to be blamed for killing 295 civilians.
Both the Ukrainian government, and the Pro-Russian rebels deny shooting down the aircraft. KT McFarland, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan, and a Fox News national security analyst said the attack was most likely the work of Russian separatists, not the Russian or Ukrainian armies. “I think it’s far more likely it was rebel forces in eastern Ukraine trying to get the Russian back involved,” McFarland said. But retired Army Lt. Col Ralph Peters, also a Fox News contributor, said it is unlikely the Russian military would have put missile batteries capable of knocking a plane out of the sky at such an altitude in the hands of rebels.
“It wasn’t the separatists, although Russia will try to blame them, or blame the Ukrainians,” Peters said. “The Russians have not given the separatists complex, high-altitude air-defense systems. If this airliner was flying at 34,000 feet or any altitude close to that, it was shot down by Russian military air-defense systems perched on the Ukrainian border.” Peters said the Russian military has been shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft in recent weeks, and most likely mistook the airliner for a Ukrainian military aircraft. “Russia has a small number of elite forces, but most of the Russian military is ill-trained, sloppy and marginally disciplined.,” he said. “With no Western response to them shooting down Ukrainian aircraft, they just got trigger happy.
Kiev has labeled the disaster as a “terrorist attack”. The flight manifest for the plane lists 23 Americans, but the State Department issued a statement saying “we don’t have any additional details at this point on American citizens.” President Obama stated that the crash is “a terrible tragedy”, and that the U.S. is working hard to determine if Americans were aboard the aircraft. The wreckage of the plane is strewn over at least 9 miles, with body parts everywhere. A Reuters corespondent, as well as a Ukrainian Emergency official described seeing body parts strewn everywhere.
The area where the plane went down is entirely controlled by the rebels, who have said they will send any “evidence” to Moscow, which insures that the truth behind this attack will never truly be known. However, the rebels have indicated they are willing to allow a 3-day ceasefire in the area for evidence collecting. Whether this can be achieved or not remains to be seen.
Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by this senseless act of violence. Stay tuned to American Military News for further updates on this tragedy.
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