Ukraine Investigating Possible Missile Strike for Iran Plane Crash
Ukrainian official reveals investigation looking into potential attack
Ukrainian investigators probing the cause of the tragic plane crash in Iran on Wednesday, that killed all 176 people on board, are looking into the possibility of a missile strike downing the aircraft, a Ukraine official has revealed.
Secretary of Ukraine's Security Council, Oleksiy Danilov, told his country's media on Thursday that a Russian missile strike is being investigated as one of several possible causes for a Ukrainian passenger plane crash.
The Boeing 737 jet went down in farmland just outside Parand, shortly after taking off from Tehran’s international airport early Wednesday morning.
"A strike by a missile, possibly a Tor missile system, is among the main (theories), as information has surfaced on the internet about elements of a missile being found near the site of the crash," Danilov told reporters.
The information Danilov was referring to are pictures that emerged online that were allegedly taken near the crash site and appear to show remnants of a rocket.
The images were posted on social media along with claims they were taken near where the Ukrainian International Airlines plane fell to earth and show a mysterious piece of debris.
According to Fox News, Ukraine is currently waiting for permission from Iran to look for missile debris at the crash site.
Iranian investigators on Thursday said the black boxes that belonged to the plane have been damaged and some parts of their memory were lost.
The crash of the Ukraine International Airlines flight that was bound for Kiev Wednesday raised concerns about Iran's transparency during the investigation.
Iran blamed mechanical failure, but some have speculated that Tehran's earlier missile assault on Iraqi bases housing American troops played a role.
The plane’s black boxes were found amid the wreckage not far from Imam Khomeini International Airport but Iran is refusing to turn them over to Boeing or the National Transportation Safety Board.
"We will not give the black box to the manufacturer and the Americans,” Ali Abedzadeh, the head of the Civil Aviation Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said, according to BBC News.
Investigators haven’t given a reason for the crash that brought down the Boeing-737 but said the pilot was attempting to steer the plane back toward the airport just before the crash.
"The plane, which was initially headed west to leave the airport zone, turned right following a problem and was headed back to the airport at the moment of the crash,” Abedzadeh said, according to BBC News.
The plane exploded on impact, potentially because it was loaded with fuel for the international flight.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sent investigators to assist and said, “the priority for Ukraine is to identify the causes of the plane crash … We will surely find out the truth.”
Images posted on Twitter by Iranian accounts, showing a charred green section of what appeared to be a rocket with nose-cone, have thrown confusion on what caused the aircraft to crash.
These unverified pictures were said to show a section of a missile that fell in front of a resident's home in the city of Parand, some 37 miles from Tehran.
Witnesses also posted on Twitter, before it was known that a plane had crashed, describing loud explosions coming from a nearby army base.
The crash site sits just under two miles from Parandak garrison, home to the 23rd Takavar Division of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army.
Alongside a picture of a rocket, that was claimed to be found in a garden of a nearby house in Parand, Ashkan Monfared wrote: "This is a piece found at the crash site of a Ukrainian passenger plane that fell in front of a resident's home.
"Does the airplane have anything like this? Isn't it a rocket?"
Other witnesses who said they were in the area at the time the aircraft went down said they heard the base had been on alert at the time and described hearing "two very loud noises."
One wrote on Twitter: "I am a resident of Parand and two to three minutes before the plane crashed two very loud noises were heard from Parandak's garrison."
Video footage appeared to show the plane already burning before it fell out of the night sky, while pictures at the crash site showed the fuselage peppered with mysterious holes.
So far, there is no evidence has been confirmed that suggests the plane was intentionally downed.
Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the NTSB, said considering an attack should be “at the top of [investigators'] agenda,” The New York Times reported.
Ukraine’s Iranian embassy initially blamed mechanical issues but later removed their statement.
They also initially ruled out terrorism or a rocket attack before backing off on that assessment.
The Ukraine International Airlines flight was carrying 82 Iranians, at least 63 Canadians, and 11 Ukrainians – nine of which were crew members – 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British citizens, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister.
There has been some back and forth about the nationalities of the passengers likely because some had dual citizenship and Germany has claimed they're not aware of any German citizens who were on the plane.