(CBS News)- U.S. officials are confident Iran shot down a Ukrainian jetliner in the hours after the Iranian missile attack on U.S. targets earlier this week, CBS News has learned. The Ukrainian International Airlines plane crashed Wednesday soon after takeoff from Tehran’s airport, killing all 176 people on board.
U.S. intelligence picked up signals of a radar being turned on, sources told CBS News. They said U.S. satellites also detected two surface-to-air missile launches, which happened shortly before the plane exploded.
Federal officials were briefed on the intelligence Thursday. A source who was in the briefing said it appears missile components were found near the crash site. The plane was believed to have been mistakenly targeted
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Iran denies shooting down passenger jet
Iranian officials are denying that one of their missiles shot down the passenger jet. A spokesman for the armed forces called the allegations ridiculous and Ali Abedzadeh, the head of the Iranian Civilian Aviation Authority, said it’s not possible.
Within hours of the crash, the aviation authority pointed toward technical failure as the cause and said the plane was on fire as it tried to return to the airport minutes after takeoff. Iran said it has launched an investigation.
Ukrainian investigators arrived at the crash site to participate but they have not yet been given access to the crash site.
The Iranians have said that they will not hand over the plane’s black boxes, but will work with the Ukrainians to download and analyze the data. They said if they need extra help, they may approach other countries and specifically mentioned France.
Newly surfaced video appears to show moment of impact
Newly surfaced video appears to show the moment of impact as the plane was gaining altitude, CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports. The video lines up with flight data that showed a normal takeoff until the plane reached an altitude of about 8,000 feet and suffered a sudden catastrophic event, Van Cleave reports.
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Canadian leader to speak following U.S. conclusion
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will deliver remarks on the plane crash at 2 p.m. ET, his communications director said on Twitter. Of the 176 people killed in the crash, at least 63 were Canadians.
Iranians call U.S. conclusion not true
The head of Iran’s civil aviation authority has said the U.S. conclusion is simply not true, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from Tehran. A website affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard called the U.S. intelligence a conspiracy cooked up by Iran’s enemies, Palmer reports.
Trump: “I had my suspicions”
President Trump was asked about the crash during an event at the White House on Thursday morning. “I had my suspicions,” the president said. “I don’t want to say that because other people have their suspicions also.”
“It’s a tragic thing when I see that,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s a tragic thing, but somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”
“It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood, and somebody could have made a mistake,” the president said. “Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don’t think that’s even a question.”