Iran attack: ‘Body of information’ shows Ukrainian plane ‘was shot down by Iran missile’

Downing Street said it was looking into “very concerning” reports about the Tehran airliner crash on Wednesday, amid the US claiming the jet was shot down by a missile. The Prime Minister said: “The loss of life on Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 is a tragedy and my thoughts are with all those who lost loved ones. “Four British nationals were among those who were killed, and we are providing support to their families at this most terrible time.  “There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile.

“This may well have been unintentional. 

 “We are working closely with Canada and our international partners and there now needs to be a full, transparent investigation.

 “It is vital that there should be an immediate and respectful repatriation of those who’ve lost their lives to allow their families to grieve properly.

 “The UK continues to call on all sides urgently to deescalate to reduce tensions in the region.”

Mr Johnson used a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to call for a “full, credible and transparent investigation” into what happened.

The Prime Minister pushed for the facts to be established during his conversation with Mr Zelenskyy on Thursday.

Mr Zelenskyy ordered a criminal investigation soon after the details of the tragedy emerged this week.

He has invited United Kingdom aviation experts to join the investigation into the crash.

A spokesman for the President said: “The President invited the United Kingdom to join the investigation.

“Boris Johnson supported this idea and stressed that the best British experts should be involved in clarifying all the circumstances of the tragedy.”

Ukraine’s Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, posted on Facebook that a missile attack was one of the possible causes of the fire that caused Ukraine International Airlines’ (UIA) PS752 aircraft to break-up as it gained height after taking off from Tehran airport on Wednesday.

Asked whether there were any concerns about the cause of the disaster, a Number 10 spokesman said: “I’m not going to speculate on this but the reports we have seen are very concerning and we are urgently looking into them.”

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The Iranian military had disputed suggestions the airliner was brought down by a missile, with officials in Iran blaming an engine fire.

But Mr Danilov said “information about the detection of the shards of a Russian missile” – understood to be a Russian Tor M1 missile – meant an attack on the plane could not be ruled out.

In his social media post, he said any investigation would have to also probe whether the plane had been subject to a terrorist attack by someone on-board the flight, or whether it collided with another object or an engine fire occurred for “technical reasons”.

The British victims who are known include engineer Sam Zokaei, from Surrey, Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi, from west London, and Mohammad Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, from near Brighton.

All three were named on the list of 176 passengers on board flight PS752 by Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), which crashed moments after it left Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran at 6.10am local time (2.40am GMT) on Wednesday, bound for the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

 

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau told a press conference that evidence indicated the aircraft might have been unintentionally shot down and said the news was likely to come as a “shock” to grieving families.

At least a third of the 176 people on board who were killed had Canadian passports, while four were Britons.

Mr Trudeau said: “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. This may well have been unintentional.”

The crash comes amid escalating tension in the Persian Gulf following the killing last week of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by the US, prompting several airlines to reroute flights away from Tehran’s airspace.

Iran fired missiles at army bases in Iraq were both US and UK troops were stationed, although both Number 10 and the White House said there had been no casualties incurred.

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