Breaking: Iran shot down Ukrainian passenger plane with two surface-to-air missiles, according to US intelligence


UPDATE: The Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed Wednesday morning in Iran, killing all 176 onboard, was “highly likely” shot down by Iran, a U.S. official told ABC News.

According to the U.S. official, U.S. intelligence is confident that Iran painted the Ukrainian airliner with radar and fired two surface to air missiles that brought down the aircraft.

An Iranian official has cited a “technical defect” in the crash of a Ukrainian airliner near Iran’s capital Tehran on Wednesday.

Transport Minister Mohammed Eslami rejected speculation about a “suspicious” crash, the Iranian news agency ISNA reported on Thursday.

“The plane caught fire due to a technical defect, and this resulted in a crash,” Eslami said.

Ukrainian state media reported that the most likely cause was an engine fire.

All 176 people on board the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737 passenger jet died when it crashed in a field near Tehran shortly after take-off.

Both black boxes have been found and are being examined by Iranian aviation experts.

The public prosecutor’s office in Tehran has confirmed that the remains of all passengers have been brought to forensics experts.

Both the black boxes – which record key flight data – and passengers’ remains are to be handed over to Ukrainian authorities, the minister said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared Thursday a national day of mourning, with flags at government buildings to be flown at half-mast, his office said in a statement.

All nine crew members aboard the flight were Ukrainian citizens, the president’s office said.

The airline expressed its “deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the air crash,” according to a statement posted on its website.

The crew comprised three pilots and six flight attendants, it said.

The airline attested to the experience of the pilots, saying that crew “error probability is minimal. We do not even consider such a chance.”

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