Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that multiple intelligence reports point out that Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner after it took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 on board, including 63 Canadians.
Trudeau’s comments came as video emerged that appeared to show the moment the airliner was hit.
That and other footage posted on social media increasingly pointed to a catastrophic mistake by Tehran’s air defense batteries in bringing down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 early Wednesday.
The video, which The New York Times said it verified, shows a fast-moving object rising at an angle into the sky before a bright flash is seen, which dims and then continues moving forward. Several seconds later an explosion is heard.
“Those aboard the plane most likely faced horrifying final moments, starting with an explosion as the missiles detonated just outside it, sending shrapnel and debris spiraling through the fuselage. The plane turned back toward the airport, then began its uncontrolled descent toward the ground,” The Times said.
The publication further said that American satellites, designed to track missile launches, detected the firing of the Iranian short-range interceptor. “United States intelligence agencies later picked up Iranian communications confirming that the system brought down the Ukrainian airliner, officials said,” it added.
Citing information from allies as well as Canada’s own intelligence, Trudeau said the plane appeared to have been hit by an Iranian surface-to-air (SAM) missile.
“We know this may have been unintentional. Canadians have questions, and they deserve answers,” Trudeau told reporters.
He was backed by other Western leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said mounting evidence supported a missile strike, which “may well have been unintentional.”
With tensions high between the United States and Iran, the disaster unfolded just hours after Tehran launched ballistic missiles towards bases in Iraq housing US troops in retaliation for the January 3 US drone strike which killed a top Iranian general.
The Iranian government said the missile strike scenario made “no sense”, however, arguing that several internal and international flights had been sharing approximately the same airspace.
Tehran later asked Ottawa to share its information with Iranian investigators.
‘Canadians want answers’
Trudeau said Canada was working with allies to ensure a credible probe.
“The families of the victims want answers, Canadians want answers, I want answers,” he said.