Evidence suggests Iranian missiles shot down Boeing jet, sources say

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of a Ukrainian plane crash.

Mahmoud Hosseini | picture alliance | Getty Images

U.S. intelligence officials have evidence that suggests the Ukraine International Airlines jetliner that crashed in Iran on Wednesday, killing 176 people, was downed by an Iranian missile, multiple officials told NBC News.

An initial Iranian report released Thursday suggested a sudden emergency struck the Boeing 737 before it went down just moments after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran. The report said the crew of the jetliner never made a radio call for help and were trying to turn back for the airport when the plane crashed.

Investigators from Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization have offered no immediate explanation for the disaster.

President Donald Trump, when asked Thursday for his thoughts on what happened to the jet, said, “Well, I have my suspicions.”

Trump added, “It’s a tragic thing. Because somebody could’ve made a mistake on the other side. … It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood, and somebody could, could’ve made a mistake.”

The jet crash came within hours after Iran fired missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces on Wednesday at 1:20 a.m. local time.

The missile strikes were Iran’s retaliation against the U.S. for the drone attack on Jan. 3 that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. American authorities later reported there were no casualties from the Iranian attack on the air bases.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pledged to discover the “truth” behind the crash, and announced investigators from his country had arrived in Iran to assist in the probe.

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The Ukrainian Embassy in Iran originally said that the crash was likely caused by an engine problem. It also ruled out terrorism or a rocket attack as possible causes. However, it later removed that information from its website and said the cause of the crash was under investigation.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

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