Trump Says ‘Mistake’ Led To Ukrainian Plane Being Shot Down

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The ongoing tension between Iran and the United States took a dramatic new turn on Thursday with the revelation in multiple news outlets that U.S. officials believe that Iran accidentally shot down the passenger jet that crashed outside that nation’s capital this week. All of the 176 people on board the plane died in the crash. Their flight was headed to Ukraine, where many of the passengers were set to take a connecting flight to Canada, and the idea in these new reports is that an Iranian missile crew thought they were under attack and fired after detecting the plane on radar.

CBS News bluntly explains that “U.S. officials are confident” that Iran shot down the Ukrainian International Airlines flight in question, considering “U.S. intelligence picked up signals of a radar being turned on, sources told CBS News. U.S. satellites also detected two surface-to-air missile launches, which happened shortly before the plane exploded.” According to a source who was in a federal briefing delivered on Thursday to top officials, missile components may have been found at the crash site — investigations are still underway.

The believed strike on the Ukrainian airliner took place on the same night that Iranian forces launched missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq, which were meant as retaliation for the abrupt recent assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was also a political leader in the country. If the accidental Iranian strike theory proves true, those behind it would have presumably assumed that the aircraft was the American response. If the plane in question was shot down, these 176 civilians were, essentially, caught in the crossfire of conflict that President Donald Trump kickstarted. The dead include Iranians, Canadians, Ukrainians, Swedes, Afghans, Germans, and British nationals.

On Thursday, Trump himself acknowledged that he did not believe that the crash was caused by mechanical malfunction, as was initially reported in the time right after the incident. Reportedly, the plane was even on fire before it went down. Now, Ukrainian authorities have said they’re exploring options including that malfunction, a terrorist attack, and an accidental missile launch.

Trump commented:

‘Well, I have my suspicions. I don’t want to say that because other people have their suspicions. Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side… not our system. It has nothing to do with us.┬áIt was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood. They could’ve made a mistake. Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don’t think that’s even a question.’

It’s unclear what intelligence about the situation that Trump may have privy to at the time of his remarks. For their part, CBS News reports that Iran alleges that the allegation that they accidentally shot down the plane is simply not true. A website affiliated with their military “called the U.S. intelligence a conspiracy cooked up by Iran’s enemies” — although Iran has said they’re unwilling to even give the plane’s “black box” to Boeing or the United States. The incident mirrors one in 1988 when the U.S. mistakenly shot down Iran Air Flight 655, killing all 290 people on board.