(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

UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway blockade ends three hours later

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Central Saanich Police prepared for afternoon shut-down of Highway 17

Sgt. Paul Brailey questions efficacy of protest

Saanich students get on board Walking School Bus

Rogers Elementary students led by teachers and Saanich Police in new initiative

Fiddler on the Roof brings timely message to Oak Bay stage

Musical starts Friday in Dave Dunnet Theatre

City of Langford rebrands, announces several projects

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day in Victoria

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Most Read