‘Highly likely’ that Iran shot down Ukrainian aircraft, say leaders

Leaders say the strike could have been a mistake

Friday, January 10, 2020

It is “highly likely” that Iran shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed near Tehran this week, killing all 176 people on board, US, Canadian and British officials have said.

Boris Johnson said last night that there was a “body of information” indicating that the crash was caused by a missile.

However, leaders have also said the strike could have been a mistake amid rocket launches and high tension throughout the region.

An Iranian official denied a missile hit the plane and called on both the US and Canada to release data backing their allegations.

Ali Abedzadeh, the head of the country’s national aviation department, said it is “absolutely impossible” that the armed forces would shoot down a civilian aircraft.

Four Britons were among those killed in the crash on Wednesday morning, which occurred just hours after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing US troops.

The attack was in retaliation to the assassination – ordered by US president Donald Trump – of top Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani.

The airliner could have been mistaken for a threat, said four US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, whose country lost at least 63 citizens in the crash, said in Ottawa: “We have intelligence from multiple sources including our allies and our own intelligence.

"The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.”

Likewise, Mr Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison offered similar statements.

Mr Morrison also said it appeared to be a mistake: “All of the intelligence as presented to us today does not suggest an intentional act.” 

Read more

Donald Trump: ‘Iran appears to be standing down’

Jeremy Corbyn: PM 'unable to stand up to Trump’ amid Iran tension

talkRADIO: Listen live