Theory Gaining Traction that Ukraine Airliner was Shot Down
A woman is shown on January 9 adding flowers to a memorial for the crew of the Ukrainian International Airlines plane that crashed the day before in Iran, at Boryspil International Airport in Kiev, the airliner’s destination. (Anna Marchenko\TASS via Getty Images)

Theory Gaining Traction that Ukraine Airliner was Shot Down

There are growing indications that the Ukrainian International Airlines 737 that crashed Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s international airport was downed by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile, if only by accident. Video has surfaced that appears to show a rocket ascending in the early morning darkness and hitting something in the air, with a visible yet small explosion, and then what seems to be a burning aircraft descending until it brightly and violently blows up upon hitting the ground. US signal intelligence reportedly picked up messages among Iranian military units indicating that at least one low-to-medium altitude anti-aircraft missile had been launched in roughly the same geographical vicinity at about the time the airliner crashed. Theories along these lines have been strengthened by the fact that Iranian authorities were initially refusing to turn over the black boxes to Boeing, the airliner’s manufacturer, nor to the US National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates crashes of this type. The incident took place just hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq hosting US-led troops, and it is believed that the Iranian military might have been jittery as it anticipated a US counterstrike. Officials in the US, Canada, Britain and other European countries have begun to accept this scenario as a possibility and even probability.

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