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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The Ukrainian plane that crashed in Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, was shot down mistakenly by Iran, US media reported.
US officials quoted by several outlets said they believe the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was hit by a missile.
They said they had identified the signature of an anti-aircraft missile battery that was activated shortly before the aircraft crashed. They also said they had identified the infrared signature of two suspected missile launches.
Oleksiy Danylov, secretary of Ukraine's national security council, said prior to the reports on Thursday the country was looking at various possible causes for the crash including a possible missile attack, a collision, an engine explosion or terrorism. However, Iran had said it was due to a mechanical malfunction.
The incident happened early on Wednesday morning, moments after the flight took off from Tehran.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the team including search and rescue experts would be involved in the identification and repatriation of those killed. Some of the experts were also involved in the investigation of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that was brought down over Ukraine in 2014.
Canadian as well as Ukrainian leaders have said answers must be given to questions that hang over Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752.
In response to the crash Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his nation expects to have a role in the investigation.
“Canadians will be asking for answers and we’re there to support and find out the truth,” Mr Trudeau said as he expressed his condolences.
Of the 176 people on Flight 752 at least 63 of the passengers were Canadian citizens. Most of the passengers, 138 people, were supposed to board connecting flights to Canada which has a large Iranian diaspora.
According to the initial Iranian report into the crash, the crew of a Ukrainian airliner was trying to return back to Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran when it went down.
Witnesses, including the crew of a passing flight, described seeing the plane engulfed in flames before crashing, the report said. The crash caused a massive explosion, likely to have been because the aircraft was fully loaded with fuel for its flight.
The report also confirmed that both the "black boxes" that contain data and cockpit communications from the plane had been recovered. Iran has said it will not send the boxes to the US for inspection despite US calls for co-operation.
Questions have been raised over the circumstances of the crash. The plane went down just hours after Iranian ballistic missiles struck US and coalition bases in Iraq.
Aviation experts have been left grappling for answers in the wake of the crash. “To me, it has all the earmarks of an intentional act. I don’t know whether it was a bomb or a missile or an incendiary device,” a former Federal Aviation Administration accident investigation chief, Jeff Guzzetti, told The Washington Post.
"I just know aeroplanes don't come apart like that," Mr Guzzetti said.
Investigators from Iran's Civil Aviation Organisation offered no immediate explanation for the disaster.
Updated: January 9, 2020 09:38 PM
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