US officials believe Iran accidentally shot down Ukraine airliner, killing all of the 176 people on board - US media

2020-01-09 20:06
Rescue teams recover debris from a field after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board.

Rescue teams recover debris from a field after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board. (AFP)

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US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he had "suspicions" about the crash of a Ukrainian airliner outside Tehran as US media reported it had been mistakenly shot down by Iran.

Unnamed officials told American media that Iranian air defence systems likely accidentally shot down the airliner on Wednesday, killing all of the 176 people on board.

Newsweek, CBS and CNN said that satellite, radar and electronic data indicated the tragic error, which followed a ballistic missile barrage by Iran on two military bases in Iraq where US troops work.

Trump didn't directly confirm that conclusion, but strongly hinted at it.

"I have my suspicions," Trump said. "It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood and somebody could have made a mistake."

"Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don't think that's even a question," Trump said, adding that "something very terrible happened."

Analysts pointed to pictures shared widely online of the wrecked fuselage of the aircraft showing multiple apparent puncture holes consistent with a rocket that detonated just outside the plane, blasting shrapnel into it.

"Similar marks were visible on wreckage of MH17," CNN reporter Jim Sciutto said, referring to the Malaysian Airlines flight which was shot down on July 17, 2014 over Eastern Ukraine by a Russian-designed surface-to-air missile.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  iran  |  us
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