A disturbing report suggests that the Ukrainian International Airlines plane that crashed in Iran earlier in the week may have been accidentally hit by a missile. All 176 people on board the aircraft were killed when the jet went down minutes after taking off from Tehran. The crash occurred not long after Iran launched roughly a dozen missiles targeting U.S. forces in Iraq.
According to USA Today, a London-based global information firm reviewed photographs posted on social media that were purportedly taken near the crash site and noticed parts of a surface-to-air missile scattered among the wreckage.
"Photographs purportedly taken near the site of the crash and circulated on social media appear to show the guidance section of an SA-15 Gauntlet short-range, surface to air missile, which landed in a nearby garden," the firm, IHS Markit, said.
U.S. authorities are also looking into whether the passenger plane was shot down. Several officials said that they detected signals that Iran's anti-aircraft system was active at the time of the crash, and U.S. satellites also detected two surface-to-air missile launches shortly before the plane went down.
After the crash, Iranian officials suggested that the plane crashed due to engine failure, but the claim has been met with skepticism by aviation experts.
"There was no way for Iran to know it was engine failure," Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general told USA Today. "That is the wreckage of an explosion in the air. Something happened to blow that plane out of the air. Statistically speaking, that's a missile or a bomb."
Iranian investigators recovered the aircraft's black box, but have refused to turn it over to other countries for examination.
President Donald Trump told reporters he found the circumstances of the crash to be suspicious.
"Well, I have my suspicions," the president told reporters at the White House. "It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood, and someone could have made a mistake."
A new video appears to show a missile flying across the sky and then striking another object, causing a massive explosion. The video was sent to CNN and the New York Times, after it was posted on Twitter. While CNN said they could not verify the authenticity of the video, the buildings appear to be "similar to ones that are in the Iranian capitol suburb of Parand."
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