Trudeau: Evidence shows Iran shot down Ukrainian airliner
WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that Canada had intelligence from multiple sources indicating that a Ukrainian airliner which crashed outside Tehran was mistakenly shot down by Iran.
A total of 176 people, including 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, were killed when the plane came down shortly after take-off on Wednesday, shortly after Iran launched missiles towards bases in Iraq housing US troops.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence,” Trudeau said. “The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional.”
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the shooting down may have been unintentional. (Reuters)
Earlier, US officials also said the plane was most likely brought down accidentally by Iranian anti-aircraft missiles.
According to satellite data, one US official said, the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 bound for Kiev was airborne for two minutes after departing Tehran when the heat signatures of two surface-to-air missiles were detected.
That was quickly followed by an explosion in the vicinity of the plane, the official said. Heat signature data then showed the plane on fire as it went down.
Two US officials said Washington believed the downing of the plane, which occurred at a time of rising tensions between Iran and the United States, was accidental.
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday the deadly crash could have been a mistake and he did not believe it was a mechanical issue.
The Pentagon declined to comment.
“Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.,” Trump said, noting the plane was flying in a “pretty rough neighborhood.”
“Some people say it was mechanical,” Trump added. “I personally don’t think that’s even a question.”
UK prime minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday there was a body of evidence that the plane was downed by a surface to air missile that might well have been fired unintentionally.
Echoing the conclusion of the US and Canada, Johnson called for a full and transparent investigation into the crash which killed all 176 people on board including three Britons.
“There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile. This may well have been unintentional,” Johnson said in a statement. “The UK continues to call on all sides urgently to deescalate to reduce tensions in the region.”
Iran’s head of civil aviation was quoted by ISNA News Agency as saying that it was “impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane.”
An Iranian report on Thursday cited witnesses on the ground and in a passing aircraft flying at a high altitude as saying the plane was on fire while in the air.