Ukrainian airliner was downed by Iranian missile, Canadian PM says

UNTV News   •   January 10, 2020   •   598

One of the engine of the plane lies among the wreckage after an Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 carrying 176 people crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, killing everyone on board, in Shahriar, Iran, 08 January 2020.

Toronto – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that his government had intelligence indicating that Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS752 was shot down by an Iranian missile.

“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional,” the prime minister said in a press conference in Ottawa.

The Iranian government responded to the Canadian prime minister’s comments, with spokesman Ali Rabiei denying in a statement that the commercial airliner had been shot down.

“All these reports are a psychological warfare against Iran … all those countries whose citizens were aboard the plane can send representatives and we urge Boeing to send its representative to join the process of investigating the black box,” Rabiei said.

Trudeau said Canadian officials believe that the supposed shoot-down of the airliner “may have been unintentional.”

The Canadian prime minister refused to answer questions from reporters about whether Canada considered the United States the ultimate party responsible for the accident because of Washington’s confrontation with Tehran after the killing of top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3 by a US drone at the Baghdad airport.

Trudeau said it was “too soon to be apportioning blame” for the crash or “drawing any conclusions” about what happened to the airliner.

“The families of the victims and all Canadians want answers. I want answers. That means closure, transparency, accountability and justice,” Trudeau said. “This government will not rest until we get that.”

UIA flight PS752, which was headed from Tehran to Kiev, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members.

Sixty-three Canadians were aboard the Boeing 737-800, which crashed just outside Tehran.

The plane was also carrying 82 Iranians; 11 Ukrainians, including two passengers and nine crew members; 10 Swedes; four Afghans; three Germans; and three Britons.

The Boeing 737-800 went down shortly after Iran fired dozens of missiles at bases in neighboring Iraq used by the US military in retaliation for Soleimani’s killing.

“It is now more important than ever that we know exactly how such a tragedy could have happened,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister said his government asked Iran to permit Canadian investigators to participate in the crash investigation, but Tehran has not agreed to do so even though Iranian officials demonstrated an “openness” to the idea.

“Canadians have questions and they deserve answers,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister held his press conference in the capital not long after US President Donald Trump said he had “suspicions” about what happened to the Boeing 737-800.

“It’s a tragic thing when I see that, it’s a tragic thing. But somebody could have made a mistake on the other side,” the US president said.

Earlier in the day, Iranian Civil Aviation Organization director Ali Abedzadeh told the ISNA news agency that the plane was not shot down.

“Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumors are illogical,” Abedzadeh said.

Abedzadeh said eyewitnesses saw the UIA plane “on fire” before it went down and the pilots did not make any emergency calls before attempting to return to the airport.

“Several domestic and foreign flights were flying in Iranian space at the same altitude of 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). The issue of the missile’s impact on the aircraft cannot be true in any way,” Abedzadeh said.

The Boeing 737-800 took off early Wednesday and crashed minutes into its flight.

Canada is home to more than 250,000 people of Iranian descent. Many of the Canadian victims of the UIA crash were families and students who had traveled to Iran for the holidays. EFE

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U.N. expert deems U.S. drone strike on Iran’s Soleimani an ‘unlawful’ killing

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

The January U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and nine other people represented a violation of international law, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Thursday (July 9).

The United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on Soleimani’s convoy as it left Baghdad airport, said Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The attack violated the U.N. Charter, Callamard wrote in a report calling for accountability for targeted killings by armed drones and for greater regulation of the weapons.

Callamard presented her findings to the Human Rights Council, giving member states a chance to debate what action to pursue. The United States is not a member of the forum, having quit two years ago.

Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was a pivotal figure in orchestrating Iran’s campaign to drive U.S. forces out of Iraq, and built up Iran’s network of proxy armies across the Middle East. Washington had accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.

The Jan. 3 drone strike was the first known incident in which a nation invoked self-defence as a justification for an attack against a state actor in the territory of a third country, Callamard added.

Iran retaliated with a rocket attack on an Iraqi air base where U.S. forces were stationed. Hours later, Iranian forces on high alert mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner taking off from Tehran.

Iran has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump and 35 others over Soleimani’s killing and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on June 29, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. (Reuters)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani)

Iran’s arrest warrant for Trump is a ‘propaganda stunt’ —U.S. official

UNTV News   •   June 30, 2020

U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook said on Monday (June 29) that an Iranian arrest warrant for President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani was a “propaganda stunt”.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr announced the warrants, asking Interpol for help, according to the Fars news agency.

Hook speaking in Saudi Arabia alongside Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir, said: “This is a political nature. This has nothing to do with national security, international peace, or promoting stability. It is a propaganda stunt that no-one takes seriously.”

The United States and Interpol both dismissed the idea of acting on such a warrant.

The United States killed Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, with a drone strike in Iraq on Jan. 3. Washington accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.

Alqasimehr said the warrants had been issued on charges of murder and terrorist action. He said Iran had asked Interpol to issue a “red notice” seeking the arrest of Trump and the other individuals the Islamic Republic accuses of taking part in the killing of Soleimani. (Reuters)

(Production: Mohammed Benmansour, Matthew Stock, Aiden Nulty)

Iran fears second wave of coronavirus as death toll tops 2,000

UNTV News   •   March 26, 2020

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iran may face a second outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, a government spokesman said on Wednesday (March 25), as the Islamic Republic banned internal travel and traditional gatherings in parks during the Persian New Year holiday period.

According to state TV, spokesman Ali Rabiei said people ignoring advice from health ministry officials travelled for the New Year holiday, which began on March 20, and could cause a second wave.

President Hassan Rouhani has banned any new trips between cities, Rabiei said, and warned of legal steps against people ignoring the ban.

The escalating outbreak in Iran has killed 2,077 people so far the health ministry said on Wednesday, with 143 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

At a meeting telecast live, Rouhani said more restrictions would be introduced to contain the coronavirus that has infected 27,017 people nationwide. The government has so far stopped short of imposing a lockdown on Iranian cities.

Authorities have called on Iranians to avoid public places and stay at home, while schools, universities, cultural and sports centres have been temporarily closed across the country.

Rouhani said the new measures would be implemented for 15 days until April 4, when under normal circumstances schools open in Iran after the New Year holidays. (Reuters)

(Production: Andrew Ragg/Jim Hatley)

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