Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752, that crashed outside the Iranian capital killing all 176 people onboard including 63 Canadians, was struck by an anti-aircraft missile system launched mistakenly by Iran, multiple news reports said on Thursday.
The Boeing 737-800, a plane model with a reliable record according to experts featured on news networks, took off from Tehran Khomeini International Airport en route to Kiev, Ukraine and stopped transmitting data just minutes after takeoff. It followed Iran missile strikes targeting U.S. forces.
The aircraft is believed to have been struck by a Russia-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system known by Western allies as Gauntlet, a Pentagon source, a senior U.S. intelligence official and an Iraqi intelligence agent told Newsweek.
The Pentagon’s assessment is that it was an accidental strike.
CBC reported early on Thursday afternoon that United States intelligence officials informed Ottawa about the development.
A U.S. official said U.S. satellites had detected the launch of two missiles shortly before the plane crashed, followed by an explosion, CBC reported.
Ukraine’s top security official said later that its passenger airliner may have been downed by a Russian-made missile, confirming very early reports that there were pieces of such a Tor air defence projectile among the debris.
Other U.S. reports indicate that the plane was not shot down.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will address reporters at 2 p.m.
Canadian authorities have requested immediate access to the crash site outside Tehran.