Intelligence suggests a Ukrainian plane that crashed near Tehran was brought down by an Iranian missile, possibly in error, Western leaders have said.
All 176 people on board were killed when the jet crashed on Wednesday, hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of its top general in an American airstrike.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference: “We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence.
“The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional”.
Sixty-three Canadians were killed in the crash.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian leader Scott Morrison also offered similar statements.
Offering his assessment in a news conference, US President Donald Trump said: “I have my suspicions – I don’t want to say that because other people have those suspicions also. It’s a tragic thing.
“But somebody could’ve made a mistake on the other side… some people think it was mechanical. I don’t think that’s even a question, personally.”
Early on Friday morning, the UK updated its travel advice for Iran, advising against all travel to the country.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also called for an “independent, full and transparent” investigation to determine what caused the jet to crash.
Mr Raab said in a statement: “Given the body of information that UIA Flight 752 was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile, and the heightened tensions, we are now advising British nationals not to travel to Iran. We also recommend against taking a flight to, from and within Iran.
“We urgently need a full and transparent investigation to establish what caused the crash.
“Our thoughts are with the families of the victims, including the four British nationals who lost their lives.”
Iran has denied the accusations by Western leaders, with government spokesman Ali Rabiei describing it as a “psychological warfare against Iran”, according to state TV.
He added: “All those countries whose citizens were aboard the plane can send representatives and we urge Boeing to send its representative to join the process of investigating the black box.”
Fears were sparked by a Ukrainian official, who raised the prospect of the jet possibly having been targeted by an anti-aircraft missile.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, told Ukrainian media that officials had four working theories regarding the crash, including a missile strike.
Ukrainian investigators have arrived in Iran and are awaiting permission to examine the crash site and look for missile fragments.
“A strike by a missile, possibly a Tor missile system, is among the main (theories), as information has surfaced on the internet about elements of a missile being found near the site of the crash,” Mr Danilov said.
Newsweek said a Pentagon official, a senior US intelligence official and an Iraqi intelligence official confirmed Mr Danilov’s comments, but the Pentagon has not yet publicly commented.
Mr Danilov said the three other possible causes under consideration include a drone or “other flying object” crashing into the plane mid-air, an explosion on the plane “as a result of a terrorist attack” or an engine malfunction causing the engine to explode.
A preliminary report by Iran’s civil aviation authority, published on Thursday, said the crew did not make a radio call for help and were trying to turn back when it came down just outside Tehran airport.
Investigators also said that the plane was engulfed in fire before it crashed.
The crash caused a massive explosion when the plane hit the ground, likely because the aircraft had been fully loaded with fuel for the flight to the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the report said.
It also confirmed that both of the black boxes that contain data and cockpit communications had been recovered, though they had been damaged and some data was lost.
Ukraine has requested the UK’s help in the crash investigation.