President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials today voiced suspicions that Iranian surface-to-air missiles brought down the Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 jet that crashed in Iran on Wednesday amid a volley of attacks.
- Multiple news accounts quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying the evidence so far points to a missile strike rather than mechanical problems, as claimed by Iranian officials. “We have a high level of confidence that this was shot down by Iran,” The Wall Street Journal quoted one official as saying.
- Speaking at the White House, Trump said he personally didn’t think it was “even a question” that a mechanical problem was to blame. “It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood, and somebody could have made a mistake,” he said. Just before the crash, Iran had fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at U.S. military installations in retaliation for the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, but today Iranian officials continued to insist that no missile hit the Ukraine International Airlines 737.
- All 176 people aboard the Kyiv-bound plane were killed in the crash, which occurred shortly after takeoff from Tehran. The plane’s flight data and voice recorders have reportedly been recovered, albeit in damaged condition, and they could shed more light on the cause. But the investigation will be complicated by U.S. sanctions on Iran, and by the fact that Iran doesn’t want Boeing officials involved.