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Iran Shot Down Ukraine Flight after Attack on Iraqi Military Bases, U.S. Officials Say

Relatives of the flight crew members of the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane that crashed in Iran, mourn at a memorial at the Boryspil International airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, January 8, 2020. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

Pentagon and Iraqi officials claim that a Ukrainian Airlines flight that crashed after leaving Tehran Tuesday night was shot down by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile system, according to multiple reports.

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, en route from Tehran to Kyiv, was shot down by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile in what was likely an accident, several U.S. military officials told Newsweek. The incident occurred just hours after Iran launched 15 missiles at Iraqi military bases in retaliation for the assassination of general Qasem Soleimani.

When asked about the crash during a White House event on Thursday, President Trump said that “somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”

“Well, I have my suspicions,” he said. “I don’t want to say that because other people have their suspicions . . . somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”

Several U.S. officials told CBS News that U.S. intelligence identified the Iranian anti-aircraft missiles upon launch using radar systems, which subsequently picked up a mid-air explosion when they struck the plane.

All 176 passengers on board the flight were killed. Footage showed the plane on fire as it descended from the sky. The New York Times later released a video showing the plane being struck by a missile.

Following the incident, Iranian state media initially reported that the plane had crashed due to “technical issues,” and Ali Abedzadeh, who leads the country’s civil aviation organization, said Wednesday he would not hand over the recovered black boxes to the United States.

In a statement Thursday, Abedzadeh dismissed allegations the plane was shot down, saying it was “scientifically impossible and such rumors make no sense at all.”

“We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information,” Boeing said in a statement after the crash.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed Thursday that he would launch an investigation “to find out the causes of the tragedy.”

“We will definitely find out the truth. We will conduct a detailed and independent investigation,” Zelensky said.

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