The Latest: Iran says it ‘unintentionally’ shot down plane

World News

FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 file photo, rescue workers carry the body of a victim of a Ukrainian plane crash in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran. Two U.S. officials said Thursday that it was “highly likely” that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed a Ukrainian jetliner late Tuesday, killing all 176 people on board. President Donald Trump is suggesting he believes Iran was responsible. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on Iran-related developments (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

Iran has announced that its military ‘unintentionally’ shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 aboard.

The statement Saturday morning blames “human error” for the shootdown.

The jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, went down on the outskirts of Tehran during takeoff just hours after Iran launched a barrage of missiles at U.S. forces.

Iran had denied for several days that a missile downed the aircraft. But then the U.S. and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believe Iran shot down the aircraft.

The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials.

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8 p.m.

Canada’s foreign minister has announced the creation of an international working group of countries to press Iran for a thorough investigation into the plane crash that killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois Champagne says a new International Co-ordination and Response Group, as it is known, includes countries outside Iran who lost citizens, with the exception of Germany.

The crash of the Ukraine International Airlines flight near Tehran on Wednesday included citizens from Iran, Sweden, Afghanistan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Germany.

The U.S. promised “appropriate action” Friday in response to its assessment that an Iranian missile was responsible for the crash.

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6:55 p.m.

Canada’s foreign minister has revised the number of Canadians killed from a plane crash in Iran to 57, down from an earlier estimate of at least 63.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says it’s a very fluid situation and 57 is the latest number after documents were checked. He says Canada is forming an emergency task force of senior officials to assist the families of those killed.

He says Iran has granted Canada just two visas for government officials. But he expects more visas will be approved soon so Canada’s Transportation Safety Board can participate in the investigation and officials from his department can provide consular services and help in the identification of victims.

Earlier Friday, Iran denied Western allegations that one of its own missiles downed the jetliner that crashed early Wednesday outside Tehran.

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4:30 p.m.

Canada’s foreign minister says Iran has granted it just two visas so far as Canada seeks to have investigators and consular officials in the country after a Ukrainian plane crashed, killing 176 people, including at least 63 Canadians.

Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne tweeted Friday that he hopes more visas will be approved soon so Canada’s Transportation Safety Board can participate in the investigation and officials from his department can provide consular services and help in the identification of victims.

He says representatives of Global Affairs and the safety board are currently stationed in Ankara, Turkey, and awaiting more visas. Global Affairs didn’t immediately say how many visas Canada needs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that intelligence sources indicate the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile.

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3 p.m.

Ukraine’s national security service says it is now considering two possible causes of the Ukrainian airliner disaster in Iran that killed 176 people — either terrorism or an anti-aircraft missile hit.

Service director Ivan Bakanov says that although Western claims of a missile are attracting the most attention, there are still questions to be answered, including the flight range of the presumed missile and the “nuances” of operating the launch mechanism.

He says the possibility of a terrorist attack is being carefully studied.

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12:30 p.m.

Ukraine’s foreign minister says his country’s investigators have been given access to the flight data recorders that were recovered from the wreckage of a Ukrainian plane that went down in Iran, killing all 176 people on board.

Vadym Prystaiko’s comments Friday came as allegations grow that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile shot down the plane.

Prystaiko says investigators also have been given access to recordings of air-traffic controllers at the Tehran airport. Although investigators have been to the crash site, he says “there are certain pieces that up until this time have not been found or gathered.”

11:50 a.m.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is congratulating President Trump for introducing a new series of sanctions against Iran.

In a statement issued by his office Friday, Benjamin Netanyahu says the “terror regime” in Iran “oppresses the Iranian people and threatens world peace.”

Israel sees Iran as its greatest threat and has often pushed for tougher U.S. actions against Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Israel has also intensified attacks against Iran and its proxies in neighboring Syria and Lebanon.

11:25 a.m.

The Trump administration on Friday announced a new wave of sanctions on Iran following this week’s missile strikes by the Islamic Republic on U.S. bases in Iraq.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin say the new sanctions will target eight senior Iranian officials involved in “destabilizing” activities in the Middle East as well as Tuesday’s missile strike.

The strike by Iran came in retaliation for the U.S. killing of a senior Iranian general in a drone strike.

Mnuchin said President Donald Trump will issue an executive order imposing sanctions on anyone involved in the Iranian textile, construction, manufacturing or mining sectors. They will also impose separate sanctions against the steel and iron sectors.

11:11 a.m.

Ukraine says its investigators have been allowed access to the site where a Ukrainian airliner crashed in Iran, killing 176 people.

Experts earlier had seen fragments of the plane that had been brought from the crash site. The country’s national security council head, Oleksiy Danilov, says in a statement Friday that the investigators are “actively working at the site of the tragedy.”

10:45 a.m.

The secretary of Ukraine’s national security council says seven possible causes are under investigation in the plane crash in Iran earlier this week.

Oleksiy Danilov didn’t list the possible causes during his remarks to Swedish broadcaster TV4. He said Ukrainian experts are working at the site near Tehran where the Ukrainian jetliner with 176 people on board crashed.

Danilov said that “so far we are happy with our cooperation with the Iranian side and we hope that it continues. It is now a difficult territory, militarized, like the whole world currently, but we hope for our cooperation to continue calmly like this.”

He said Ukraine has 45 investigators in Iran and the experts have access to the plane’s debris.

He said he doesn’t know if the flight data recorders will be handed over to Boeing, the maker of the plane. “I think rather not than yes, but I think all the countries interested in this situation, all those who suffered, will have access to the black boxes,” he said.

Danilov also said the collection of DNA samples is almost complete, after which countries can repatriate victims’ remains.

9:45 a.m.

The Swedish Transport Agency is temporarily revoking permission for Iran Air to fly in Swedish airspace, citing uncertainty about this week’s plane crash near Tehran and the safety of Iran’s civil aviation.

Agency head Gunnar Ljungberg says that “we understand that this can create problems for travelers. But passenger safety is paramount, and we have therefore decided to temporarily stop the flights.”

Also Friday, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde said “17 people from Sweden” were among the 176 people killed in the crash of the Ukrainian jetliner. Seven reportedly were citizens and the rest had legal residency.

Swedish police say their identification unit is cooperating with Iranian and Ukrainian authorities as well as Interpol.

9:30 a.m.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have discussed the investigation of the plane crash that killed 176 people in Iran this week.

A U.S. statement says Pompeo offered the Ukrainian leader condolences and “full assistance in the ongoing investigation” into the crash of the Ukrainian jetliner.

Zelenskiy’s office said the Ukrainian leader briefed Pompeo about the progress in the probe, and they agreed that Pompeo would visit Ukraine in late January.

“Grateful for the condolences of the American people and valuable support of the U.S. in investigating the causes of the plane crash,” Zelenskiy tweeted after the call.

Earlier Friday he called for “all international partners” — the U.S., Britain and Canada in particular — to share data relevant to the crash.

Western leaders have said the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile near Tehran. Iranian officials have ruled out a missile attack.

9:25 a.m.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry is calling statements about a missile hitting a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed this week in Iran “unacceptable” and urges people to wait until the investigation is finished.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday that “one shouldn’t try to score political points on this horrible human tragedy. It is important to allow specialists to analyze the situation and make conclusions.”

He called it “at the very least indecent” to play games over the crash of the Ukrainian jetliner that killed all 176 people on board.

Western leaders have said the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile near Tehran hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two U.S. bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of its top general in an American airstrike. Iranian officials have ruled out a missile attack.

7:45 a.m.

Germany’s Lufthansa airline says it and subsidiaries are canceling flights to and from Tehran for the next 10 days as a precautionary measure.

Its new statement Friday says the decision is due to the “unclear security situation for the airspace around Tehran airport” after this week’s crash of a Ukrainian jet that killed all 176 people on board.

Some Western leaders say the plane appears to have been unintentionally hit by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Iran denies that.

Other airlines have been making changes to avoid Iranian airspace. Alitalia, which hasn’t had flights to Iran since December 2018, says its flights to New Delhi and the Maldives are using alternate routes to those which usually fly over Iran and Iraq.

6:45 a.m.

Ukraine’s foreign minister says he and the Ukrainian president met with U.S. embassy officials Friday and obtained “important data” about the plane crash that killed 176 people in Iran earlier this week.

Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko in a tweet gave no details but said the data would be “processed by our specialists.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy earlier Friday called for “all international partners” — the U.S., Britain and Canada in particular — to share data relevant to the crash of the Ukrainian jetliner.

Zelenskiy also announced plans to discuss the investigation with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday afternoon.

Western leaders have said the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile near Tehran hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two U.S. bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of its top general in an American airstrike.

5:20 a.m.

German airline Lufthansa says its Friday flight from Frankfurt to Tehran is cancelled “as a precautionary measure” because of the security situation for airspace around the Iranian airport.

The same flight turned back Thursday for the same reason as investigators rush to determine what brought down a Ukrainian airliner this week near Tehran. All 176 people on board were killed.

“As soon as we have detailed information, we will decide if and when our Iranian flights can be operated again,” Lufthansa said in a statement.

Some Western leaders say the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Iranian officials have ruled out a missile attack.

5:10 a.m.

The French air accident investigation authority says it has been invited by Iran to join the probe into this week’s plane crash near Tehran.

The French authority known by its French acronym BEA said Friday it has been notified by Iran’s air accident board. The BEA in a Twitter post says it has designated an accredited representative to the investigation.

The plane’s engine was designed by CFM International, a joint company between French group Safran and US group GE Aviation.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian earlier Friday told RTL radio that “it is necessary to establish the truth” and called for “total clarity.” He wouldn’t comment on whether the plane could have been hit by an Iranian missile, which the U.S. has asserted.

4:50 a.m.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says the information that the plane that crashed in Iran this week could have been hit by a missile is “very serious.” At least 10 Swedes were on board.

Lofven told The Associated Press in an email Friday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke and agreed that “this information would further increase the need for an urgent, complete and transparent investigation.”

Canada is among the countries saying a missile could have struck the plane that crashed near Tehran and killed all 176 on board, including dozens of Canadians.

The Swedish leader also said he and Trudeau agreed that “the affected countries need to be able to contribute national expertise as well as provide full transparency in the investigation.”

Lofven also has spoken with Ukraine’s president.

4:20 a.m.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says if it’s confirmed that the jetliner that crashed in Iran this week was mistakenly shot down by an air defense missile ”then one is honestly left lost for words.”

Maas also told German broadcaster n-tv that Berlin told Tehran on Thursday it expects other nations to be involved in the investigation.

“The greatest possible transparency (is needed) for total clarity and so nothing is swept under the carpet, because that would really not be conscionable given the dimension,” he said.

He said Iran’s invitation to the Americans to help investigate is “a very important signal” and he added that “I think all sides have recognized that the time has passed now for military escalation, that it makes sense to talk to each other.”

4:00 a.m.

France is offering to help Iran investigate this week’s crash of a Ukrainian airliner that killed all 176 people on board.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday on RTL radio that “it is necessary to establish the truth” and called for “total clarity.” He wouldn’t comment on whether the plane could have been hit by an Iranian missile, which the U.S. has asserted.

He said France is available to offer expertise. French air accident investigators have extensive experience with international crashes because they are involved any time an Airbus has an accident. This week’s crash involved a Boeing.

Le Drian also insisted that the Iran nuclear deal “is not dead.” Le Drian is meeting Friday with other European diplomats to discuss the deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear activities after Tehran said it would no longer abide by any limitation to its enrichment activities.

3:40 a.m.

The head of Iran’s investigation team into the plane crash this week that killed all 176 people on board tells state television that Tehran will use expert help from Russia, Ukraine, France and Canada ”if we cannot recover data” from the plane’s recorders.

Hassan Rezaeifar said Friday that recovering the data could take more than one month and the entire investigation into the crash could take more than one year.

He also said the flight had been delayed by about an hour because the pilot decided to unload part of the luggage as the flight was overweight.

Western leaders have said the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile near Tehran, but Iranian officials have ruled out a missile attack.

3:25 a.m.

Russian lawmakers say statements about a missile hitting a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed this week in Iran are “groundless” and they accuse the West of prematurely assigning blame to Tehran. All 176 people on board the plane bound for Ukraine died.

Vladimir Dzhabarov, a lawmaker with Russia’s upper house of parliament, said Friday that “we need to be cautious with conclusions. Iranians have invited Ukraine to take part in the investigation. Why would they do it if they knew they had shot (the plane) down?”

Leonid Slutsky, a lawmaker with Russia’s lower house of parliament, echoed that sentiment and said conclusions about the cause of the crash could be politically motivated.

“Facts and solid evidence are needed, rather than vague references to intelligence findings. So far it has all been groundless,” Slutsky said.

Western leaders have said the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile near Tehran hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two U.S. bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of its top general in an American airstrike.

2:50 a.m.

The Ukrainian president says he is not ruling out the possibility that the plane which crashed earlier this week in Iran had been hit a by a missile.

“The missile theory is not ruled out, but it has not been confirmed yet,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a Facebook post Friday. All 176 people on board the plane bound for Ukraine died.

Zelenskiy reiterated his call for “all international partners” — the U.S., Britain and Canada in particular — to share data and evidence relevant to the crash.

He also announced plans to discuss the investigation with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday afternoon.

Western leaders have said the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile near Tehran hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two U.S. bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of its top general in an American airstrike.

Iranian officials have ruled out a missile attack but have invited the U.S. accident-investigating agency to take part in the investigation.

1:40 a.m.

Iranian authorities have given Ukrainian investigators access to the fragments of the plane that crashed earlier this week and they were examined late Thursday, according to a statement by the Ukrainian president’s office.

“It is too early on in the investigation to reveal specific details,” the statement says.

The president’s office also says DNA is being collected from relatives of Ukrainians who died in the crash in order to identify the bodies.

Iran has invited Boeing to take part in the investigation into the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed and killed all 176 people on board, state media reported Friday.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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