U.S. Believes Iran Shot Down the Ukrainian Jet by Mistake

Intelligence officials believe an Iranian Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile struck the plane, killing 176 people.
January 9, 2020, 5:28pm
Mazyar Asadi/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

U.S. intelligence officials now believe Iran mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian airliner that went down on Wednesday, killing all 176 people onboard, according to multiple reports.

Newsweek first reported on Thursday ― citing a Pentagon official, a senior U.S. intelligence official and an Iraqi intelligence official ― that officials believed the plane was struck by a Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system. The Boeing 737 passenger jet, bound for Kyiv, went down shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday.


CNN and CBS have both also reported that U.S. intelligence believes Iran shot down the jetliner.

CNN reported the assessment was made using “satellite, radar, and electronic data” gathered by the U.S. military and intelligence community.

Sources told CBS News that U.S. satellites picked up signals of a radar being turned on, then two surface-to-air missiles shortly before the plane went down.

Iran blamed the crash on mechanical failure, but the plane was new, and had been recently maintained. Ukraine on Thursday refused to rule out a missile strike. Iran’s anti-aircraft systems were likely active on Wednesday after it carried out a missile attack on Iraqi bases that house U.S. personnel, Newsweek reported. The Pentagon and one U.S. intelligence official told the magazine the Pentagon’s assessment was that the incident was accidental.

READ: Ukraine isn't ruling out a missile strike in Iran plane crash

President Donald Trump hinted Thursday that Iran was responsible for the plane going down.

"Well, I have my suspicions … It’s a tragic thing,” he said in a news conference. “Somebody could’ve made a mistake, on the other side. It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood, and somebody could’ve made a mistake.”

Eighty-two of the victims of the incident were Iranian. Sixty-three were from Canada and 11 were from Ukraine.

Cover: Rescue team at the crash site of a Ukrainian airliner that burst into flames shortly after take-off from Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people aboard in a crash. (Photo by Mazyar Asadi/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)