Iran Likely Shot Down Ukraine Airlines Flight With Canadians Aboard: Trudeau

January 9, 2020 Updated: January 9, 2020
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the plane that crashed in Iran on Jan. 8, killing 176 people—including dozens of Canadian nationals—was likely shot down by an Iranian missile.

“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional,” the prime minister told reporters Jan. 9 at a news conference.

Ukraine Airlines flight PS752 crashed near Tehran shortly after takeoff, hours after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.

Trudeau was asked about whether the downing of the plane was an intentional act; he replied that he wasn’t ruling that out.

“It is really too early to draw any conclusions,” he told reporters. “The families of the victims and all Canadians want answers. I want answers. That means closure, accountability, and justice. We will not rest until we get that,” he added.

While Iranian officials had originally suggested that the Boeing 737-800 fell from the sky because of a technical problem, President Donald Trump suggested Jan. 9 that he didn’t believe the plane went down due to a mechanical error.

“It’s a tragic thing. But somebody could have made a mistake, on the other side,” he told reporters.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a file photo. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a file photo. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

According to officials, 63 passengers on the plane had Canadian passports, and many others were living in Canada as permanent residents or had visas.

Unnamed U.S. officials told Fox NewsCBS News, The Wall Street Journal, and several other news outlets Jan. 9 they believe the plane was mistakenly targeted by Iran.

“We have a high level of confidence that this was shot down by Iran,” an unidentified American official was quoted by the Journal as saying.

The Epoch Times couldn’t independently verify the reports, and Pentagon officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Data showed the Boeing 737-800 was airborne for two minutes after departing Tehran, when the heat signatures of two surface-to-air missiles were detected,  Reuters reported, citing an unidentified U.S. official.

Following the reports of Iranian involvement, the country’s head of civil aviation denied the reports as “illogical rumors.”

“Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumors are illogical,” Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation (CAOI) chief Ali Abedzadeh told the ISNA News Agency.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement that he had spoken to Iran’s foreign minister.

Iranian officials should allow Canadian investigators “to be quickly granted access to Iran to provide consular services, help with identification of the deceased and take part in the investigation of the crash,” according to a statement, Reuters reported.

“Canada and Canadians have many questions which will need to be answered.”