A passenger jet, operated by the Ukrainian flag carrier Ukraine International Airlines, that crashed just outside the Iranian capital of Tehran on Jan. 8 was struck by an anti-aircraft missile system, Newsweek reported citing U.S. officials.
According to the officials, the aircraft was struck by Russia-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system (NATO reporting name: SA-15 Gauntlet). The report added that the incident was accidental citing Pentagon’s assessment.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737–800 airliner, was on a scheduled international passenger flight (Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752) from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport to Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport. It stopped transmitting data just minutes after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday and crashed shortly afterward.
The aircraft crashed into terrain located 15 kilometers north of the airport. The crash occurred hours after Iran launched retaliatory missile strikes on U.S. positions in Iraq for the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
All 176 people onboard – 167 passengers and nine crew members – were killed in the crash, making it the deadliest aviation disaster in Iran in more than a decade. The crash was also the first fatal aviation incident for Ukraine International Airlines since the start of its operation in 1992.
82 of the victims were Iranian, 63 were Canadian and 11 were Ukrainian (including nine crewmembers), along with 10 Swedish, seven Afghan and three German nationals.