(The Associated Press)

Recordings show Iran knew jetliner hit by a missile: Ukraine

The Iranian government had insisted for days after the crash that it didn’t know what happened

A leaked recording of an exchange between an Iranian air-traffic controller and an Iranian pilot purports to show that authorities immediately knew a missile had downed a Ukrainian jetliner after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, despite days of denials by the Islamic Republic.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy acknowledged the recording’s authenticity in a report aired by a Ukrainian television channel on Sunday night.

In Tehran on Monday, the head of the Iranian investigation team, Hassan Rezaeifar, acknowledged the recording was legitimate and said that it was handed over to Ukrainian officials.

After the Jan. 8 disaster, Iran’s civilian government maintained for days that it didn’t know the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had shot down the aircraft. The downing of the jetliner came just hours after the Guard launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for an earlier American drone strike that killed the Guard’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad.

A transcript of the recording, published by Ukrainian 1+1 TV channel, contains a conversation in Farsi between an air-traffic controller and a pilot reportedly flying a Fokker 100 jet for Iran’s Aseman Airlines from Iran’s southern city of Shiraz to Tehran.

“A series of lights like … yes, it is missile, is there something?” the pilot calls out to the controller.

“No, how many miles? Where?” the controller asks.

The pilot responds that he saw the light by the Payam airport, near where the Guard’s Tor M-1 anti-aircraft missile was launched from. The controller says nothing has been reported to them, but the pilot remains insistent.

“It is the light of missile,” the pilot says.

“Don’t you see anything anymore?” the controller asks.

“Dear engineer, it was an explosion. We saw a very big light there, I don’t really know what it was,” the pilot responds.

The controller then tries to contract the Ukrainian jetliner, but unsuccessfully.

Publicly accessible flight-tracking radar information suggests the Aseman Airlines aircraft, flight No. 3768, was close enough to Tehran to see the blast.

Iranian civil aviation authorities for days insisted it wasn’t a missile that brought down the plane, even after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. officials began saying they believed it had been shot down.

There were 57 Canadian citizens aboard the aircraft along with several others who had ties to Canada.

Iranian officials should have immediately had access to the air-traffic control recordings and Zelenskiy told 1+1 that “the recording, indeed, shows that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane was shot down by a missile, they were aware of this at the moment of the shooting.”

Ukraine’s president repeated his demands to decode the plane’s flight recorders in Kyiv — something Iranian officials had promised last month but later backtracked on. On Monday, Ukrainian investigators were to travel to Tehran to participate in the decoding effort, but Zelenskiy insisted on bringing the so-called “black boxes” back to Kyiv.

“It is very important for us,” he said.

Iranian authorities, however, condemned the publication of the recording as “unprofessional,” saying it was part of a confidential report.

“This action by the Ukrainians makes us not want to give them any more evidence,” said Rezaifar, the head of the Iranian investigators, according to a report by the semiofficial Mehr news agency.

___

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Daria Litvinova in Moscow and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

___

Yuras Karmanau And Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

Flight 752 crash in Iran

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Who is or may be running in Stikine in the provincial election

Cullen nomination sparks controversy over NDP equity policy

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Witset releases COVID-19 strategy following three confirmed cases

Plan implements strict measures to contain spread of the virus

Meet the 10-year-old girl who grew a pineapple in northern B.C.

Emily Atkins discovers it takes a lot of patience to grow tropical fruit in a temperate climate

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vancouver Island family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Most Read