Iran’s civil aviation chief has denied allegations that one of its own missiles downed a Ukrainian Boeing 737 jetliner that crashed early Wednesday outside Tehran. The crash happened moments after Iran launched a missile strike on US targets in Iraq.
The Ukrainian 737 was carrying 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons.
Ali Abedzadeh, Iran’s aviation chief, told a press conference “What is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane.”
The declaration came after Britain and Canada pointed to what they said were signs of an accidental missile strike.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that multiple intelligence sources indicated that an Iranian missile downed Ukraine 737 after it took off from Tehran.
But Abedzadeh of course rejected the allegation, saying that “Any remarks made before the data is extracted from the plane’s flight recorders … is not an expert opinion.”
Footage appears to showing jet crash in Iran
Trudeau’s comments came as video footage emerged that appeared to show the moment the airliner was hit.
Citing information from allies as well as Canada’s own intelligence, Trudeau said the plane appeared to have been hit by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.
Footage allegedly shows a fast-moving object rising at an angle into the sky before a bright flash is seen. Which dims and then continues moving forward. Several seconds later there’s an explosion.
“We know this may have been unintentional. Canadians have questions, and they deserve answers,” Trudeau said.
He was backed by other Western leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Who said mounting evidence supported a missile strike, which “may well have been unintentional”.
Meanwhile, Canada on Thursday said it had accepted an invitation from Iran’s civil aviation authority to join the inquiry. Britain’s Johnson also called for a full, transparent investigation.
Unidentified officials told US media that satellite, radar and electronic data indicated Iran’s air defence units downed the aircraft.
Ukraine called for United Nations support for a broad investigation. Its sent 45 crash investigators to Tehran to take part in the inquiry led by Iranian authorities.
Investigators are pursuing several possibilities, including engine failure, a missile strike or an act of terror.