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U.S. Pentagon officials have confirmed that the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Iran, and took the lives of 176 people, was in fact struck down by an anti-aircraft missile system.
According to Newsweek, news of the missile strike was confirmed by a senior U.S. intelligence official, as well as an Iraqi intelligence official.
Iran initially claimed it was an engine technical failure that caused the crash.
The plane, a Boeing 737-800 on its way from Tehran to Kyiv, lost contact with airlines shortly after takeoff, and not long after the Iranian government struck a U.S. military base. The plane was struck by a Russian-built missile known commonly as “Gauntlet,” Newsweek reports.
The Pentagon told Newsweek that they believe the strike was an accident, and that the missile system was still active after the country struck the U.S. base—a strike which was prompted after the U.S. killed Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, who was dubbed the number one terrorist in the world.
The flight had 176 people on board, of which 82 were Iranian, 63 were Canadian, and 11 were Ukrainian, made up of mostly crewmembers. There were also 10 Swedes, seven Afghans, and three Germans. There were no survivors.
The incident has sparked debate about how Iran should respond to the accidental slaying of their own citizens, numerous Canadians and other nationals.
One former Trudeau appointed ambassador quickly went on to point out that “this happens sometimes,” and that there should be limited repercussions.
Incidents like these do happen. A notable example was the July 1988 Flight 655, when the United States accidentally shot a missile at a passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai.
CBC reporter Natasha Fatah raised questions that still remain about whether or not Iran will share black box data with international investigators.
According to Aurora Intel, the Iranian head of civil aviation has dismissed reports of the plane being struck by a missile as “illogical rumours.”
European security sources reportedly side with the United States’ assessment, that the flight was shot down by accident by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile, “is credible,” according to Sky News‘ Deborah Haynes.