U.S. officials confident Iran shot down Ukrainian airliner

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A rescue worker searches the scene where an Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, killing all onboard. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

KYIV, Ukraine (WLNS) – U.S. officials are confident that Iran shot down a Ukrainian jetliner in the hours after the Iranian missile attack on U.S. targets, according to CBS News.

U.S. intelligence picked up signals of a radar being turned on, sources told CBS News. U.S. satellites also detected two surface-to-air missile launches, which happened shortly before the plane exploded, CBS News was told.

An initial Iranian investigative report says the crew of a Ukrainian jetliner never made a radio call for help and was trying to turn back for the airport when the burning plane went down.

Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, said it considered a missile strike as one of several possible theories for the crash, despite Iran’s denials.

The official, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said that investigators were following up on unconfirmed reports that fragments of a Russian-made Tor surface-to-air missile, a system used by Iran, had been found near where the plane, a Boeing 737-800, came down.

Through the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Iranians have invited the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States to assist in the investigation despite having previously stated that the Americans would not be involved, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The NTSB has reached out to the State Department to figure out how to proceed, the people said. Sanctions against Iran prevent Boeing from contacting the Iranians without an export license, they said.

The Ukrainian International Airlines plane crashed Wednesday soon after takeoff from Tehran’s airport, killing all 176 people on board.

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