The US authorities believe that Iran shot down the Ukrainian plane that crashed on Wednesday after taking off in Tehran, claiming the lives of 176 passengers and crew, according to the CBS American News Agency, a claim that is said to have some substance by the president himself, Donald Trump.
According to sources, intelligence information collected following the incident, validates the CBS claim.
It is alleged that a radar signal was turned off and the US satellites detected two launches of ground-to-air missiles, which occurred shortly before the plane exploded. Federal authorities are said to have received this intelligence information on Thursday and, according to one of those attending the meeting, missile components would have been found near the site of the incident.
Asked about the accident on Thursday, Trump said he had his “suspicions.” “I don’t want to say any more because other people also have their own suspicions,” he said. “It’s absolutely tragic, but someone could have made a mistake on the other side,” he added.”Some people say it was a mechanical fault. I personally don’t think that is the case,” he said.
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Meanwhile, also on Thursday, Tehran has released the preliminary report of the Civil Aviation Agency on the Ukrainian airline accident, in which it is noted that the pilot of the aircraft did not warn of and problems or failures and that the aircraft suffered a fire before crashing.
The director of the National Civil Aviation Agency of Iran, Alí Abedzadé, explained that the investigators have recovered the two ‘black boxes’ from the wrecked aircraft indicating that the two devices both have “damages” derived from the fire and the accident.
As for the flight itself, he said that the pilot did not send any message notifying air traffic controllers of flight failures or anomalies and that several witnesses on the ground reported that the plane suffered a fire before crashing shortly after taking off from the Imam Jomeini International Airport in Tehran.
“According to witness accounts, both people on the ground and technicians who saw the plane flying, a fire was seen on the plane after which it crashed to the ground. The trajectory of the plane indicates that it was going west before turning as soon as the problem was detected, and I was returning to the airport at the time of the accident,” Alí Abedzadé explained.
He pointed out that the first impact of the aircraft as it struck the ground was in a park after which it bounced along the ground, losing sections as it did so, before coming to a standstill with serious structural damage.
UKRAINE DOES NOT DISCLAIM THAT IT WAS A RUSSIAN MISSILE
Meanwhile, the secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Oleksei Danilov, said Thursday that his country is analysing four theories about the incident, including the possibility that the device was shot down by a Russian land to air missile.
“Experts are studying several theories relating to the sudden fall of the plane,” he explained in a message on Facebook. The main one is that it was “shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, including the Russian Tor missile system, as there is information on the Internet that fragments of the Russian-made missile have been found near to the scene of the accident.”
It is also being considered, according to Danilov, that the aircraft hit a drone or another flying object, as well as “the destruction and explosion of an engine which occurred purely for technical reasons and finally an explosion inside the plane.
It was confirmed by the news agency Ukrinform that the Ukrainian government team in charge of investigating the accident is already in Tehran and is made up of 45 representatives from twelve ministries and agencies.
Among the members of the research team are some of the experts who took part in the international investigation following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014 in Ukraine with a Russian-made missile.
With the leaders of Canada and the UK now also calling for a full and thorough investigation into the crash the evidence seems to be mounting with the US media speculating that the timing of the crash suggests the plane may have been mistaken for a US warplane as Iran prepared for possible US retaliation for the strikes.
However Iran has once again ruled out a missile strike by its air defences.