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US officials say ‘highly likely’ Iran shot down Ukrainian jetliner: reports

Ukraine International Airlines jet. (PeakPx/Released)
January 09, 2020

U.S. officials determined that it is “highly likely” that the Ukraine International Airlines jet crash on Wednesday was caused by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

“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,” said Ukraine Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov, according to Fox News.

Ukrainian investigators have been probing all possibilities, including engine failure, terrorist attack, and an anti-aircraft missile that could’ve caused the crash, but have acknowledged a missile strike is the most likely source, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Video footage of the plane before the crash shows it on fire before it crashed less than five minutes after takeoff from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, ultimately killing 176 people.

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Some experts who assessed the video said the plane – a Boeing 737-800 – may have been breaking in mid-air.

Iran’s behavior surrounding the crash investigation has raised some suspicion, fueling the missile theory.

Iran has refused to turn over the plane’s black box recorder, or allow the U.S. to be involved in the investigation.

President Trump suggested on Thursday that Iran may have mistakenly shot down the plane – which crashed just hours after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles on two U.S. military bases in Iraq.

“Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side,” Trump said.

“Some people say it was mechanical,” Trump added. “I personally don’t think that’s even a question.”

Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization has not given an official cause for the crash. Iranian officials have blamed technical malfunctions for the incident, and said the aircraft had attempted to return to the airport.

However, Iranian investigators also said the pilot never transmitted a radio call for help.

“No radio messages were received from the pilot regarding unusual situations,” an initial investigative report said. Pilots typically make radio calls in the event of emergencies.