Iran has rejected claims by western nations that it inadvertently shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet, which crashed just outside Tehran on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation (CAOI), insisted that the plane was not hit by a missile.
The leaders of the United States of America, Canada and Britain had on Thursday said evidence had suggested that Iran unintentionally launched a surface-to-air missile, which struck the jet and resulted to the death of 176 passengers and crew members.
Read Also: Iran ‘Mistakenly’ Shot Down Ukrainian Plane – US
The crash happened just hours after Iran carried out missile strikes on two airbases housing US forces in Iraq.
But Abedzadeh said he was certain that the plane was not struck by a missile.
“The thing that is clear to us and that we can say with certainty is that this plane was not hit by a missile.
“As I said last night, this plane for more than one and a half minutes was on fire and was in the air, and the location shows that the pilot was attempting to return,” the CAOI chief told reporters.
On Thursday, government spokesman Ali Rabiei accused the US and its allies of “lying and engaging in psychological warfare” in their speculation over the cause of the accident.
Read Also: Ukrainian Passenger Plane Crashes In Iran, Killing 170
An Iranian official said on Friday that there was documentation to prove that the plane had a mechanical issue before take-off, adding that it was not signed off for flying, the BBC reports.
However, the official said Ukrainian airline officials had objected to his claim, but did not provide any further details.
The Ukrainian flight was headed to the Canadian city of Toronto via the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, when it crashed.
Victims of the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians as well as nationals from Sweden, the UK, Afghanistan and Germany.
Iran has promised a full investigation but has been less clear about the probe modalities, particularly if it will allow Ukrainian and American investigators – the crashed plane being a Boeing 737 – to join in the probe.