US officials believe Iran accidentally shot down Ukraine airliner: US media

President Donald Trump waves off a question from a reporter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (File photo: AP)

US President Donald Trump said Thursday he had “suspicions” about the crash of a Ukrainian airliner outside Tehran as US media reported it had been mistakenly shot down by Iran.

Unnamed officials told American media that Iranian air defense systems likely accidentally shot down the airliner Wednesday, killing all of the 176 people on board.

Newsweek, CBS, and CNN said that satellite, radar, and electronic data indicated the tragic error, which followed a ballistic missile barrage by Iran on two military bases in Iraq where US troops work.

Trump didn't directly confirm that conclusion, but strongly hinted at it.

“I have my suspicions,” Trump said. “It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood and somebody could have made a mistake.”

“Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don't think that's even a question,” Trump said, adding that “something very terrible happened.”

Analysts pointed to pictures shared widely online of the wrecked fuselage of the aircraft showing multiple apparent puncture holes consistent with a rocket that detonated just outside the plane, blasting shrapnel into it.

“Similar marks were visible on wreckage of MH17,” CNN reporter Jim Sciutto said, referring to the Malaysian Airlines flight which was shot down only July 17, 2014, over Eastern Ukraine by a Russian-designed surface-to-air missile.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:01 - GMT 07:01
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