AMERICA has accused Iran of shooting down the Ukrainian airline which crashed near Tehran yesterday saying that the Iranian military hot it with a Russian-made surface to air missile which brought it down shortly after take-off.
Over the last week, tensions between the US and Iran have been high after the Americans assassinated General Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, in an airstrike on Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. Iran has since responded by firing rockets at US military bases in Iraq, although Washington said that there were no casualties from the attack.
Yesterday, matters got more complicated, when a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 crashed after take-off from Tehran, killing all176 people on board. Ukraine said it was examining whether a missile strike brought down the aircraft and Iran has ruled this out but today, Washington said the Iranians mistakenly shot down the plane with a Russian-made Tor missile defence system.
US media outlet officials CBS News quoted US intelligence sources as saying a satellite detected infrared blips of two missile launches, followed by another blip of an explosion. Also, Us magazine Newsweek quoted a Pentagon and senior US intelligence officials, as well as an Iraqi intelligence official, as saying they believed the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was hit by a Russian-made Tor missile.
Iran has said, however, that it will not hand over the recovered black box flight recorders to Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer, or to the US. Under global aviation rules Iran has the right to lead the investigation but manufacturers are typically involved in such investigations.
Two Pentagon officials assessed that the incident was accidental, according to Newsweek, which quoted sources as saying that Iran’s anti-aircraft systems were probably active following its attacks on the US airbases. President Donald Trump too has indicated that he has his suspicions about what brought the aircraft down.
He said: “I have my suspicions, it’s a tragic thing when I see that but somebody could have made a mistake on the other side. Some people say it was mechanical but personally, I don’t think that’s even a question, so we’ll see what happens.”
Oleksiy Danylov, the secretary of Ukraine’s security and defence council, said four main possible crash causes were being considered. These he added include an anti-aircraft missile strike, a mid-air collision with a drone or other flying objects, engine destruction/explosion due to technical reasons and an explosion inside the plane as a result of a terror attack. He added that Ukrainian investigators, who are already in Iran, wanted to search for possible debris from a missile at the site of the crash.