U.S. officials said Thursday they believe that the Iranian military mistakenly targeted and shot down a Ukrainian International commercial flight that had just taken off from an airport in Tehran on Tuesday.
“An absolute tragedy,” one U.S. official told Fox News. “They just screwed up and it is tragic.”
The official told Fox News that a Russian-made SA15 missile, which is part of the Tor surface-to-air missile system, was the kind that brought down the aircraft.
Moscow delivered 29 Tor-M1 systems to Iran in 2007 as part of a $700 million contract signed in December 2005. Iran has displayed the missiles in military parades as well.
In addition, crash investigators in Iran believe that the black boxes belonging to the aircraft have been tampered with as well, their memories erased.
Initially, the Iranian government refused to hand over the black boxes to the maker of the doomed 737-800, Boeing.
Ukrainian Airlines flight PS 752 crashed after taking flight en route to Kyiv. The crash killed 176 people on board, mostly Ukrainian, Iranian, and Canadian citizens.
A report from Iranian authorities blamed the crash on an unknown “sudden technical issue” the set the plane on fire midair, according to the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN.
The report concluded that the pilots tried to turn the plane back to Tehran’s international airport shortly after takeoff but failed to do so successfully.
In addition, the Iranians claimed the pilots never attempted to contact the control tower at the airport in Tehran.
UNIAN noted that the report did not discuss the potential of the missile assault on American targets catching the commercial airliner in its crossfire.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government announced that it believes the Iranian military mistakenly targeted the aircraft with a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.
“A strike by a missile, possibly a Tor missile system, is among the main (theories), as information has surfaced on the internet about elements of a missile being found near the site of the crash,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, told reporters, according to the Associated Press.
By Thursday, video of the alleged shoot-down of the plane and subsequent crash were appearing on social media.
Here we go. Video footage of an Iranian Tor M1 missile bringing down the 737-800, Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752. This certainly contradicts Iran's "engine failure" narrative. pic.twitter.com/CyMjASAlFI
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 9, 2020
— Nellie Belén Izarza 🌹 🇻🇪🇺🇸 (@myteks) January 8, 2020