‘Highly likely’ Iranian missile shot down Ukrainian jet that killed 176 people, US officials say

(Xinhua/Ahmad Halabisaz via Getty Images)

Emerging evidence strongly suggests that the Ukrainian airplane that crashed shortly after taking off from the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport early Wednesday morning was downed by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile system.

The first piece of evidence is testimony from three domestic and foreign officials who spoke with Newsweek.

“The Ukrainian flight that crashed just outside the Iranian capital of Tehran was struck by an anti-aircraft missile system, a Pentagon official, a senior U.S. intelligence official and an Iraqi intelligence official told Newsweek,” the outlet reported early Thursday afternoon.

Their belief appears to be that, during Iran’s missile strikes late Tuesday on at least two Iraqi bases containing U.S. military forces, the nation’s anti-missile systems were switched on for defensive purposes.

Early the following morning, the anti-missile systems apparently detected the plane taking off and identified it as a threat, or so the theory goes.

The second piece of evidence is another set of confirmations obtained by The Associated Press.

“Two U.S. officials said Thursday it was ‘highly likely’ that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed a Ukrainian jetliner in the early morning hours on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board,” the news agency reported a bit later Thursday morning.

“The U.S. officials wouldn’t say what intelligence they have that points to an Iranian missile. But they acknowledged the existence of satellites and other sensors in the region, as well as the likelihood of communications intercepts and other similar intelligence.”

Iran has for its part denied the theory’s validity.

“Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumors are illogical,” Ali Abedzadeh, the head Iran’s of Civil Aviation Organization, reportedly said in a statement.

In a preliminary report released Thursday, Iranian investigators “said the pilots never made a radio call for help and claimed the aircraft was trying to turn back for the airport when the burning plane went down,” according to the AP.

“The Iranian report suggests that a sudden emergency struck the Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines early Wednesday, when it crashed.”

However, as noted earlier, evidence suggests Iran is either in denial or purposefully trying to hide something.

Third, the rogue regime has refused to release the plane’s black box, and fourth, images from the crash site reportedly showed the plane’s fuselage peppered with holes:

Fifth is the following stunning passage from the AP: “Eyewitnesses, including the crew of another flight passing above it, described seeing the plane engulfed in flames before crashing at 6:18 a.m.”

What malfunction would cause an entire plane to erupt in flames?

Sixth, prior to the plane’s inexplicable crash, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reportedly issued an emergency flight restriction blocking U.S. flights from traveling over certain regions of Iraq and Iran out of concern of the “potential for miscalculation or mis-identification.”

Seventh, Ukrainian officials have reportedly centered their own investigations on the same theory.

“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, the secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, reportedly said.

Eighth, as noted by Danilov, a missile was found near the crash site.

“Photographs purportedly taken near the site of the crash and circulated on social media appear to show the guidance section of an SA-15 Gauntlet short-range, surface to air missile, which landed in a nearby garden,” the London–based global information provider IHS Markit reportedly announced in a report Thursday.

Ninth, the three unnamed domestic and foreign officials who spoke with Newsweek specifically cited the so-called Gauntlet.

“The aircraft is believed to have been struck by a Russia-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system, known to NATO as Gauntlet, the three officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, [said],” Newsweek reported.

(Pavlo_Bagmut/ Ukrinform / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

And tenth, IHS has called bull on Iran’s claim that a sudden emergency caused the plane to immediately turn around after taking off.

The information provider specifically said the air traffic data it’s reviewed is “not consistent” with the claim. Flight data likewise shows the plane ascended just fine until it disappeared at 8,000 feet.

“This is consistent with a catastrophic incident onboard the aircraft,” the provider’s report reads.

In other words, there wasn’t some emergency that slowly played out. Instead, something sudden, abrupt and utterly catastrophic occurred.

“The evidence overwhelmingly points to a catastrophic event in midair, said Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general. She said not only did the flight’s crew not send out a distress call, but the plane itself also has the capability to report any mechanical issues. It did not,” USA Today notes.

A total of 167 passengers and nine crew members died during the crash, including 82 from Iran, 63 from Canada, four from Afghanistan and the rest from various parts of Europe.

If it’s established without a doubt that Iran’s own malfeasance and incompetence did indeed cause the crash, it’s unclear what consequences the rogue nation may face.

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Vivek Saxena

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