The timing of the crash, coming just hours after Iran fired missiles towards U.S. bases in Iraq, immediately prompted speculation that the plane had been accidentally shot down.
That premise is shared by experts from the OPS group, an aviation risk monitoring organization, who noted that pictures of the plane debris show holes in the plane’s fuselage and wing.
“We would recommend the starting assumption to be that this was a shootdown event, similar to MH17 – until there is clear evidence to the contrary,” said the group in a statement, adding that the photos “show obvious projectile holes in the fuselage and a wing section.”
This looks like shrapnel damage on the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, which went down near Tehran tonight. Pictures 2 and 3 show shrapnel damage on MH17, shot down by an SA-11 Buk surface-to-air missile in 2014. (via @Kaitain_AZ ) pic.twitter.com/z5J5ZIf0Rm— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 8, 2020
Iranian officials claimed that the pilots lost control of the plane after a fire in one of the aircraft’s engines, an explanation that has largely been echoed by the mainstream media without question.
“Doesn’t it seem far more likely that a misfiring of Iran’s defense system might have brought down the plane?” asks Zero Hedge.
According to the company, the Boeing 737-800 was was of their best planes in the fleet, was “in excellent condition” and had undergone scheduled maintenance just two days before the crash.
All evidence, including video, points to PS752 being shot down by a surface-to-air missile, burning up in mid air and falling to the ground. There’s extensive damage on the plane that could’ve only been caused by shrapnel from a mid-air detonation. pic.twitter.com/TpsfUeM0u8— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 8, 2020
Ukrainian officials say the Boeing 737-800 involved in the crash is one of the best planes in the Ukrainian fleet.
And a local Iranian reportedly discovered a “control segment” of a TOR M1 missile near the the Ukrainian plane crash site.
Photos of the Ukrainian flight show shrapnel damage on the wings and fuselage.
More photos by Heshmat Alavi.
9)— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) January 8, 2020
Surface to air missiles explode near their target to spray it with shrapnel. This increases the impact ratio significantly.
Images from PS752 shows clear signs of shrapnel.
(via @Azematt) pic.twitter.com/FxzAZO4Pmt
Via CBS News:
#BREAKING: @CBSNews has learned U.S. officials are confident that Iran shot down a Ukrainian jetliner in the hours after the Iranian missile attack on U.S. targets.— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 9, 2020
176 people were killed, including at least 63 Canadians. pic.twitter.com/g149hAcui0
Jan 10 – West of Tehran, #Iran— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) January 10, 2020
Photo shows the crash site of the Ukraine Int’l Airlines flight #PS752 bulldozed by regime authorities.
All the while, Tehran “welcomes” foreign investigators.#IranPlaneCrash pic.twitter.com/hdKRGWLf8a
Iran denies the site was bulldozed.
Quoting @christogrozev— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) January 10, 2020
Iranian amb. @baeidinejad to UK raises voice to @SkyNews reporter who asks him about bulldozing evidence: “[Who] told you so? How dare you accuse us based on some media reports?”
Reporter says “We saw the footage”
Amb: “Journalists are irresponsible” pic.twitter.com/zoWn2tq4GJ
I’m sure this 10 day old CIA press release threatening to release MANPADS in the hands of terrorists and “region-lock” them has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Ukrainian airplane crash. Nothing at all. pic.twitter.com/IyK9WJQc59— Syrian Girl 🇸🇾🇮🇷 (@Partisangirl) January 10, 2020
Who usually stands int he middle of nowhere at the dense of the night filming the air, coincidentally where a missile will fire up and shoot a plane going down… Iran still says there’s no missile, so could be something else.— Arabi Souriعربي سوري (@3arabiSouri) January 10, 2020
Isn’t it interesting how the US government jumped to blame the Tor-M1 specifically, almost certainly showing an intent to block Iran from obtaining proper air defense this year in October when the conventional weapons sanctions run out due to adherence to JCPOA. pic.twitter.com/qBLge5LGmX— Syrian Girl 🇸🇾🇮🇷 (@Partisangirl) January 10, 2020
As someone else pointed out, a radar-based weapon like the Tor-M1 would lock on to the fuselage which has the largest radar cross-section, but instead what we saw was an engine fire, making an infrared seeking warhead far more likely.— Syrian Girl 🇸🇾🇮🇷 (@Partisangirl) January 10, 2020
A smuggled CIA MANPADS is the prime suspect.
The US were informed via spy channels that Iran was about to retaliate.— Syrian Girl 🇸🇾🇮🇷 (@Partisangirl) January 10, 2020
So they told their assets to shoot down a civilian flight, perfectly film it, then send the film to NYT.
It’s a message, they shot down an Iranian plane in 1988.#IranPlaneCrash pic.twitter.com/7FWUCfYzeL
According to Al Jazeera, Iran’s judiciary announced on January 14th the arrests of “an unspecified number” of suspects whom the state alleges are responsible for the ‘accidental’ downing of a commercial passenger jet just hours after Tehran fired a barrage of missiles at several American installations in Iraq.
Iran faced international outrage over the downing, as Tehran initially planned to refuse to allow any foreign powers to cooperate in the investigation. However, it has since changed its tack, agreeing to allow Ukrainian, Canadian, French and American investigators to examine the crash data recovered from the plane’s black box.
After initially denying any culpability in the crash (which killed 176 passengers and crew) while accusing skeptics of “psychological warfare,” Iran did an about face over the weekend, admitting that an IRGC missile operator shot down the plane because he thought it was a drone in what the regime described as a “disastrous mistake.”
In comments carried by state media, spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Tuesday that “extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals are arrested.” Though he didn’t offer any additional details.
Speaking to the country during a televised address on 1-14-2020, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani promised a thorough investigation into the “unforgivable error” of shooting down the plane.
It’s worth noting that the pressure faced by the regime in the wake of the accident wasn’t solely external. Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Iranian cities, including Tehran, to demand justice for the mistake.
Rouhani said the regime would set up a “special court” overseen by a ranking judge and dozens of experts to investigate the “tragic event” (translation: the suspects will face show trials, capped with hefty sentences).