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Tue, 31 March 2020

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Boris Johnson says 'body of information' suggests Iran shot down Ukrainian jet

Boris Johnson says 'body of information' suggests Iran shot down Ukrainian jet
3 min read

Boris Johnson has said there is a "body of information" that Iran shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet en route to Kiev.


The Prime Minister said four Britons were among the 176 passengers killed when International Airlines Flight 752 exploded as it was leaving Tehran airport.

Mr Johnson said there needed to be a "full, transparent investigation" into the incident as he called for an "immediate and respectful repatriation" of the dead.

His comments came as the New York Times published footage which appeared to show an Iranian missile hitting a plane in the area where the liner crashed on Wednesday morning, killing all 176 people on board.

As well as the British casualties, 79 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, Seven Afghans and three German nationals were also confirmed dead.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions in the region following the assassination by America of Iranian military chief Qasem Soleimani, and a retaliatory strike by Tehran on an Irazi base housing US and UK troops.

In a statement, Mr Johnson said: "There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile. This may well have been unintentional. 

"We are working closely with Canada and our international partners and there now needs to be a full, transparent investigation.

"It is vital that there should be an immediate and respectful repatriation of those who’ve lost their lives to allow their families to grieve properly.

"The UK continues to call on all sides urgently to de-escalate to reduce tensions in the region."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: "We have intelligence, including from our allies and own intelligence that the plane was shot down by Iranian surface-to-air missiles."

He added: “We recognise that this may have been done accidentally. The evidence suggests very clearly a possible and probable cause for the crash."

According to The New York Times, which cited several videos of the incident, the stricken jet was hit by a missile but continued to fly for minutes before turning back toward the airport and then exploding. The paper cited a United States official who said there was now a "high level of confidence" in Washington that the airliner had been downed by mistake.

Tehran - which has so far refused to hand over black box recorders to plane manufacturer Boeing or the United States - has rejected the Western explanation of the incident. 

Ali Abedzadeh, the head of Iran’s of Civil Aviation Organisation, said: "Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumours are illogical."

Ukrainian investigators are currently awaiting access to the site to carry out their own probe.

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