- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2020

President Trump said Thursday he suspects a Ukrainian airliner that crashed in Iran this week was shot down by Iranians who “made a mistake” during Tehran’s missile attacks against U.S. military bases.

“I have my suspicions,” the president told reporters. “Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side. It has nothing to do with us. It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood and somebody could have made a mistake.”

The passenger liner crashed moments after takeoff in Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard early Wednesday. A London-based global information firm said Thursday that the plane was likely downed by an Iranian missile.

The president called it “a tragic thing.”

“Some people say it was mechanical, I personally don’t think that’s even a question,” Mr. Trump said. “I have a feeling that it’s just some very terrible. Something very terrible happened, very devastating.”

Two US officials say it’s “highly likely” Iranian anti-aircraft missile brought down Ukrainian passenger plane.

The Boeing 737 craft appeared to be on fire when it went down just hours after Iran launched a salvo of missiles at U.S. troops stationed at two bases in Iraq.

Iranian officials say they are still investigating the cause of the crash, but have suggested a mechanical problem was to blame.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy by phone Thursday, Ukrainian officials said, and said Iran was ready to provide experts access to all data.

The plane was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials.

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