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‘Highly likely’ that Iran shot down Ukrainian aircraft, say leaders

14 January 2020

The Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed shortly after takeoff from Iran's capital on Wednesday was brought down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, according to U.S. and Canadian intelligence officials.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called for an "independent, full and transparent" investigation to determine what caused the Tehran airliner crash.

Good morning and welcome to the Guardian's live blog coverage of the bad loss of life after a Ukrainian passenger aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran - and the new development in the form of claims by western security officials that it was accidentally shot down by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile.

He ended the tweet by saying, "We appreciate any country who can provide information to the committee in charge".

There were 176 people on board the aircraft - 167 passengers (including two Ukrainians) and nine crew (all Ukrainians).

It was carrying 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons.

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"The NTSB has designated an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash, involving a Boeing 737-800", the statement said.

But Iran's aviation authority chief said the missile theory could not be "scientifically correct" because it was not possible for an airliner to be hit and "continue flying for 60 to 70 seconds".

The Iranian government has strongly denied the claims, and accused the USA of spreading misinformation.

Iran and Ukraine are calling on the USA and Canada to release information backing such allegations as Canadian officials are preparing to participate in the investigation into the crash.

"There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile", said the prime minister, Boris Johnson.

Iran has continued to insist the crash was the result of mechanical error and warned that the black box may have been "damaged".

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Iran is denying that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was hit by a missile. The assessment from United States officials came as Tehran released an initial report into the incident that said the pilots did not put out a call for help, but had been trying to return to the airport when the aircraft went down.

But unidentified officials told USA media that satellite, radar and electronic data indicated Tehran's air defence units downed the aircraft.

The flight went down in the dark just minutes after takeoff, with no radio message from the pilot to indicate distress, according to the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said it was making arrangements to tour the site after an Iranian invitation.

Investigators are pursuing several possibilities, including engine failure, a missile strike or an act of terror.

Short footage of the recorders was released by Iranian media on Friday.

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That tragedy that came just hours after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two airbases in Iraq housing USA and coalition troops - in direct retaliation for the Trump administration's targeted killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani just days earlier.

‘Highly likely’ that Iran shot down Ukrainian aircraft, say leaders