This isn’t terribly surprising, but it is terribly unfortunate.
According to three sources who spoke to Newsweek for an exclusive published Thursday, the 737 which crashed near Tehran earlier this week was probably hit by an anti-aircraft missile.
The plane – which fell off the radar at 8,000 feet, where it caught fire and then plunged to the ground, killing all 176 people on board – attempted to turn back after takeoff, Iran said Thursday.
A Pentagon official, a senior US intelligence official and an Iraqi intelligence official, each told Newsweek that in all likelihood, the plane was accidentally struck by a Russia-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system, known to NATO as “Gauntlet”.
Iran had just finished firing 16 rockets at US targets in Iraq when the plane crashed, and it’s likely that the country’s air defense systems were activated at the time in case of a US counterstrike.
Justin Trudeau would later hold a press conference which essentially served as confirmation.
“The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile”, he said. “This new information reinforces the need for a thorough investigation into this matter”. Dozens of Canadians were killed in the incident.
Various theories have been floated, including a missile strike, a malfunction, a mid-air collision or a terror attack.
“American agencies including the National Transport Safety Board are weighing whether it’s legal to engage with Iranian authorities under terms of sanctions against the country, according to people familiar with the matter”, Bloomberg notes, adding that “they’re also concerned about sending people to Iran given recent military strikes”.
Of course, the fact that the plane was manufactured by Boeing introduced yet another element of uncertainty given the company’s ongoing trials and tribulations.
Boeing’s shares spiked Thursday on the Newsweek report.
Images of purported missile debris have been circulated on social media, but remain unconfirmed.
No matter how you slice it, this is a senseless tragedy.
If it was, in fact, an errant missile which brought down the 737, that means the death toll from this past week’s hostilities is 176 more than the people killed in the drone strike on Qassem Soleimani.