Iran believed to have shot down airliner, perhaps by mistake: Trudeau

Prime Minister tells media the strike that killed all onboard could have been unintentional

Rescue workers search the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed as the bodies of victims in body bags lie on the ground, in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says intelligence from multiple sources indicates that an Iranian missile downed the Ukraine International Airlines flight that crashed near Tehran on Wednesday.

He says the strike might have been unintentional.

Trudeau was providing an update amid multiple reports earlier Thursday that pointed the finger at Iran for the downing of a the plane, killing all on board including 138 people who were headed to Canada.

“The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional,” Trudeau told a Parliament Hill news conference Thursday afternoon.

Trudeau said he knows the news will come as a shock to grieving families.

Ukrainian officials have said a missile is on their list of potential causes for the crash.

The plane crashed minutes after taking off from Tehran’s airport on Wednesday.

Trudeau repeatedly said there needs to be a complete and thorough investigation to get “a complete picture of what happened.”

He said it was too soon to blame the U.S., which triggered a chain of events that led to the crash with its killing of a top Iranian general last week. He said there needs to be further investigation.

The crash came after a week of soaring tensions in the Middle East, occurring just hours after Iran launched missile attacks on bases in Iraq where American and allied troops are stationed. Iran said the attacks were retaliation for the American killing of Maj.-Gen. Qassem Suleimani near Baghdad.

Earlier Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested he believes Iran was responsible, without laying direct blame.

“Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side,” Trump said in a Washington news conference, noting the plane was flying in a “pretty rough neighbourhood.”

“Some people say it was mechanical,” Trump added. “I personally don’t think that’s even a question.”

Trudeau said he had no comment on what Trump had said.

Iran’s civil aviation authority is leading the investigation, under international rules for probes of such crashes. The organization said Thursday it had invited Canadian investigators from the Transportation Safety Board to join a growing team probing the crash.

Trudeau said Canadian consular officials are headed to Turkey and that Iran would be open to issuing visas so they could be granted access to the country. He said Iran has indicated “an openness” to Canada taking part in an investigation. Canada and Iran broke off diplomatic relations in 2012.

READ MORE: Newlyweds, professors, students among Edmonton victims of plane crash in Iran

ALSO READ: ‘Highly likely’ Iran downed Ukrainian jetliner, U.S. officials say

The Canadian Press and Associated Press

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