Ukrainian passenger plane carrying 170 people crashes near Tehran – local media 

A Ukrainian passenger plane carrying 170 passengers and crew has crashed near Tehran just hours after Iran launched a missile attack on US bases in Iraq in revenge for the killing of Qassem Soleimani. 

Iranian state media reported that the Kiev-bound Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752  – Boeing 737 -crashed near just three minutes after takeoff from Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 167 passengers and nine crew on board.  

Video footage tweeted by the BBC’s Iran correspondent, Ali Hashem, appeared to show the plane already burning in the sky before it crashed in a massive explosion, sparking speculation that the jet had been shot down.

Speculation is rampant that the airliner was accidentally shot down by nervous Iranian air defence soliders because the crash came hours after Iran fired 15 ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq. 

There were no casualties in the Iranian missiles attacks on US bases called Operation ‘Martyr Soleimani and Donald Trump tweeted that ‘all is well’ after the attack.  

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif called the attacks ‘self-defense’ but said they did ‘not seek escalation’ but would defend itself against further aggression.  

But the crash of the Ukrainian Airlines 737 is a dramatic development and will increase tension if the jetliner has been shot down by the Iranians. 

Flight data shows the three-year-old Boeing 737-800 reached an altitude of 7,925ft and then suddenly disappeared. Tracking of the flight ended after six minutes and it was moving at a ground speed of 316 miles-per-hour. 

Photos later published by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency showed rescue officials in a farm field, with what appeared to be pieces of the aircraft laying nearby. 

Iranian Red Crescent’s Relief and Rescue Organization said: ‘Obviously it is impossible that passengers.’ 

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky expressed condolences in a message from Oman.

‘Terrible news from the Middle East,’ he posted from his vacation in the Middle Eastern country. ‘This morning, after taking off from the Imam Khomeini International Airport (Tehran), a passenger plane of Ukraine International Airlines crashed near the airport.

“According to preliminary data, all passengers and crew members were killed.Our embassy clarifies the information about the circumstances of the tragedy and the lists of casualties.

‘My sincere condolences to the families and friends of all passengers and crew members.’

The video appears to show Ukrainian flight no. PS 752 falling

Unverified video appeared to show Ukrainian  plane ablaze as it falls from the sky before crashing huge fireball

Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 carrying 176 people and heading to Kiev crashed near Tehran Wednesday

Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 carrying 176 people and heading to Kiev crashed near Tehran Wednesday

Authorities are seen carrying bodies away from the scene after the crash on Wednesday

Authorities are seen carrying bodies away from the scene after the crash on Wednesday

The head of Iran's emergency services initially said they may be able to save a few on board

The head of Iran’s emergency services initially said they may be able to save a few on board

People stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport

People stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport

Images show a helicopter and emergency vehicles at the scene of the crash as first responders worked to find any survivors

Images show a helicopter and emergency vehicles at the scene of the crash as first responders worked to find any survivors  

Iranian Red Crescent’s Relief and Rescue Organization said it was impossible for there to be any survivors

Iranian Red Crescent’s Relief and Rescue Organization said it was impossible for there to be any survivors

Later emergency responders said the fire was too heavy at the scene and they could do no rescue

Later emergency responders said the fire was too heavy at the scene and they could do no rescue

The plane ‘crashed around Parand’, about 60 kilometres south-west of the Iranian capital, state media said. 

An investigation team was at the site of the crash in southwestern outskirts of Tehran, Iran’s civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh told the Associated Press. 

‘After taking off from Imam Khomeini international airport it crashed between Parand and Shahriar,’ Jafarzadeh said. ‘An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced.’ 

Horror pictures from the scene of the crash show scattered and charred wreckage littering the ground. 

Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency services, had told State TV that they hoped to rescue survivors at the scene.

But later said: ‘The fire is so heavy that we cannot (do) any rescue… we have 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances and a helicopter at the site.’

About 10 ambulances were on the scene after the crash as emergency responders tried to gather bodies

About 10 ambulances were on the scene after the crash as emergency responders tried to gather bodies

Search and rescue works were being conducted at site on Wednesday after a Boeing 737 plane crash

Search and rescue works were being conducted at site on Wednesday after a Boeing 737 plane crash

The airliner, said to be a Boeing 737, went down around Parand 60 kilometres south-west of the Iranian city Tehran. The aircraft took off 2.44am UTC (6:14am local time) on Wednesday and had reached 7,925ft

The airliner, said to be a Boeing 737, went down around Parand 60 kilometres south-west of the Iranian city Tehran. The aircraft took off 2.44am UTC (6:14am local time) on Wednesday and had reached 7,925ft

The Boeing 737, Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752, went down near Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport

The Boeing 737, Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752, went down near Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport

An investigation team was at the site of the crash in southwestern outskirts of Tehran, Iran’s civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh told the Associated Press

According to the flight record, the plane was doing 275kts when it was downed. Flight data shows the three-year-old Boeing 737-800 reached an altitude of 2.4 km and then suddenly disappeared three minutes after take-off in Tehran

According to the flight record, the plane was doing 275kts when it was downed. Flight data shows the three-year-old Boeing 737-800 reached an altitude of 2.4 km and then suddenly disappeared three minutes after take-off in Tehran

The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces. It was Iran’s most direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

The retaliation for the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani came after president Trump approved the drone strike that killed the general shortly after he arrived in Baghdad, Iraq.

Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops on Tuesday night, hours before the Ukrainian plane crashed.

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq that Trump visited in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST), but no casualties were reported.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which controls the country’s missile program, confirmed that they fired the rockets just hours after the slain general’s funeral, and reported the operation’s name was ‘Martyr Soleimani’.

Trump and his advisers are under pressure to disclose more details about the intelligence that led to the U.S. strike on Soleimani. 

The burial for Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani has taken place in his hometown earlier

The burial for Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani has taken place in his hometown earlier

The Ukrainian airlines jet which crashed was a Boeing 737-800 – a very common single-aisle, twin-engine jetliner used for short to medium-range flights. Thousands of the planes are used by airlines around the world. 

Introduced in the late 1990s, it is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX, which has been grounded for nearly 10 months following two deadly crashes.

A number of 737-800 aircraft have been involved in deadly accidents over the years.

In March 2016, a Flydubai 737-800 from Dubai crashed while trying to land at Rostov-on-Don airport in Russia, killing 62 onboard. Another 737-800 flight from Dubai, operated by Air India Express, crashed in May 2010 while trying to land in Mangalore, India, killing more than 150 onboard.   

‘We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information,” Gordon Johndroe, spokesperson for Chicago-based Boeing Co. said in a statement.

Boeing, like other airline manufacturers, typically assists in crash investigations. However, that effort in this case could be affected by the U.S. sanctions campaign in place on Iran since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018. 

Both Airbus and Boeing had been in line to sell billions of dollars of aircraft to Iran over the deal, which saw Tehran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. But Trump’s decision halted the sales. 

The airline’s call centre in Kiev said it had no information yet. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had previously made veiled threats to American airliners after tweeting a reference to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people.  

Rouhani tweeted that America should ‘never threaten Iran’ after warning the US should ‘remember the number 290’ in reference to an incident when the US Navy accidentally shot down an Iranian passenger jet in the Persian Gulf in July 1988, killing 290.

Some Middle East experts have taken this as a veiled reference to the Lockerbie terrorist attack, which saw a bomb destroy Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland in December 1988 killing 270 – months after the downing of Iranian flight 655.

Libya has always been blamed for the Lockerbie bombing, and one of their intelligence agents was jailed in Scotland for the terror attack. 

But Western spies believe Tehran played a role in the attack and executed it in revenge for the downing of the Iranian passenger jet. 

Trump: ‘So far, so good’ as casualties and damage are assessed after Iran ballistic missile strike 

President Donald Trump says ‘all is well’ and ‘so far so good’ as the damage and casualties continue to be assessed after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general.

‘All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far,’ Trump tweeted late Tuesday as he broke his silence on the missile attack.

Trump said he would be making an official statement on Wednesday morning regarding the attacks. 

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq that Trump visited in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST). 

The Pentagon says the missiles were ‘clearly launched from Iran’ to target U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. A U.S. official said there were no immediate reports of American casualties, though buildings were still being searched.   

A military official has revealed the U.S. had early warnings of the Iranian missile launches and were able to the sound the alarms at at least one of the two targeted bases. Those in harm’s way were able to scramble to safety and hide in bunkers during the attack, the official told USA Today. U.S. troops at the base had been practicing safety drills for some time.   

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which controls the country’s missile program, confirmed that they fired the rockets in retaliation for last week’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, according to state TV. 

They reported the operation’s name was ‘Martyr Soleimani’ and it took place just hours after the slain general’s funeral.  

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif called the attacks ‘self-defense’ but said they did ‘not seek escalation’ but would defend itself against further aggression.    

Iran has fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general

Iran has fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general 

The rockets hit Ain Asad (pictured) which houses US and coalition troops

The rockets hit Ain Asad (pictured) which houses US and coalition troops

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq that was visited by Donald Trump in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST) 

The Pentagon says the missiles were 'clearly launched from Iran' to target U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq

The Pentagon says the missiles were ‘clearly launched from Iran’ to target U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq 

The rockets used in the attack, according to Iranian TV, were Fatteh-110 ballistic missiles, which have a range of 186 miles or 300km. 

The Iranian air force has since deployed multiple fighter jets to patrol it airspace, according to reports – as Iran warned the U.S. and its allies in the region not to retaliate. 

The Pentagon said it was still working to assess the damage. 

‘In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces,’ a statement from the Pentagon read. 

‘It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at al-Assad and Irbil. We are working on initial battle damage assessments.

President Donald Trump says 'all is well' and 'so far so good' as the damage and casualties continue to be assessed after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops

President Donald Trump says ‘all is well’ and ‘so far so good’ as the damage and casualties continue to be assessed after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops

Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif called the attacks 'self-defense' but said they did 'not seek escalation' but would defend itself against further aggression

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif called the attacks ‘self-defense’ but said they did ‘not seek escalation’ but would defend itself against further aggression

‘As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.’    

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, reportedly said Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei was personally in the control center coordinating the attacks.

They also warned U.S. allies in the Middle East that they would face retaliation if America strikes back against any Iranian targets from their bases. 

‘We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,’ they said. It also threatened Israel. 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after news of the strikes broke. 

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday night that the missile strikes were an ‘act of war’ and said Trump had all the power he needed to act. 

‘This is an act of war by any reasonable definition,’ Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. ‘The President has all the authority he needs under Article II to respond.’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that the U.S., as well as the rest of the world, ‘cannot afford war’. 

‘Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war,’ she tweeted. 

 

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