US President Donald Trump said Thursday he had “suspicions” about the crash of a Ukrainian airliner outside Tehran that killed all 176 people aboard, as US officials reported it had been mistakenly shot down by Iran.
Unnamed officials told US media that Iran fired two surface-to-air missiles at the aircraft as it took off on Wednesday morning, bringing it down in a blaze of flames before it exploded on the ground.
The US conclusion was reportedly based on satellite, radar and electronic data indicating a tragic error.
The disaster unfolded just hours after Tehran launched ballistic missiles at US military targets in Iraq to retaliate for the January 3 US drone strike in Baghdad that killed a top Iranian general.
ABC News said an unnamed official called the two-missile scenario “highly likely.”
Trump didn’t directly confirm that conclusion, but strongly hinted at it.
“I have my suspicions,” Trump said. “It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood and somebody could have made a mistake.”
“Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don’t think that’s even a question,” Trump said, adding that “something very terrible happened.”
But the Iranian government ruled out a missile strike, saying such a scenario made “no sense.”
“Several internal and international flights were flying at the same time in Iranian airspace at the same altitude of 8,000 feet (2,440 meters),” Iran’s transport ministry said.
“This story of a missile striking a plane cannot be correct at all,” it said in a statement
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