Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner
TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s civil aviation authority confirmed two missiles were fired at a Ukrainian airliner that was brought down earlier this month, in a preliminary report posted on its website late Monday.
“Investigators… discovered that two Tor-M1 missiles… were fired at the aircraft,” it said, adding an investigation was ongoing to assess the bearing their impact had on the accident.
The statement confirms a report in The New York Times which included video footage appearing to show two projectiles being fired at the airliner.
The Tor-M1 is a short-range surface-to-air missile developed by the former Soviet Union that are designed to target aircraft or cruise missiles.
The Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines plane was shot down in a catastrophic error shortly after takeoff from Tehran on January 8, killing all 176 people on board.
Iran had for days denied Western claims based on US intelligence reports that the Boeing 737 operating Flight PS752 had been shot down, before eventually coming clean.
The Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh accepted full responsibility, but said the missile operator who opened fire had been acting independently.
Earlier, a Ukrainian airliner that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard, was likely brought down by an Iranian missile, Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said , citing intelligence from Canadian and other sources.
The destruction of the airliner, which carried 63 Canadians, “may well have been unintentional,” Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” he said.
Trudeau said his government would not rest until it had obtained closure, transparency, accountability and justice.
Earlier on Thursday, a US official, citing an extensive review of satellite data, said Washington had concluded with a high degree of certainty that anti-aircraft missiles brought down the plane. The official said the Boeing 737-800 had been tracked by Iranian radar.
The US government believes Iran shot down the plane by mistake, three US officials told Reuters.
The data showed the plane was airborne for two minutes after departing Tehran when the heat signatures of two surface-to-air missiles were detected, one of the officials said.
That was quickly followed by an explosion in the vicinity of the plane, the official said. Heat signature data then showed it on fire as it went down. Heat signatures are infrared emissions detected by US military satellites.