The latest on Iran plane crash

By Fernando Alfonso III, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Tara John and Caitlin Hu, CNN

Updated 4:23 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020
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1:47 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020

Canada's Trudeau demands accountability after Iran admits to accidentally shooting down plane

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau places a candle at vigil for victims of the a plane crash in Iran.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau places a candle at vigil for victims of the a plane crash in Iran.  Dave Chan/Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government expects the "full cooperation" of Iranian authorities in investigating the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

Fifty-seven of the 176 people who were killed were Canadian nationals. Nearly 140 passengers on board were scheduled to take a connecting flight from Kiev to Canada.

Here's Trudeau's full statement:

“Tonight, Iran acknowledged that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by its own armed forces.
Our focus remains closure, accountability, transparency, and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims. This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together.
We will continue working with our partners around the world to ensure a complete and thorough investigation, and the Canadian government expects full cooperation from Iranian authorities.”
12:56 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020

The downed jet appeared to be taking common flight path

The Ukraine International Airlines flight that was mistakenly shot down appeared to be flying "a very common path to leave the airport," according to CNN's Fred Pleitgen, who is on the ground in Tehran.

"I've flown out of Imam Khomeini Airport I think 16 or 17 times. And pretty much every time we took almost that exact flight path," Pleitgen said.

Data appeared to show several flights that had taken off from the airport before the Ukrainian flight using the same flight path.

However, the Iranians said it was more than just the flight path that factored into the decision-making that ultimately resulted in the plane being accidentally shot down.

The Iranian Armed Forces said in a statement Saturday that the airliner was flying close to a sensitive military center at an altitude and flight condition that resembled hostile targeting when it was shot down.

12:05 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020

Iran should have closed down airspace after firing ballistic missiles, experts say

Experts who spoke to CNN expressed confusion as to why Iran did not stop commercial flights or close its airspace Wednesday after it fired several ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq where US troops were stationed.

Here's what retired Maj. Gen. James Marks said:

"You have a very hot, contested, busy airspace over Iran," Marks said. "Everybody is on a heightened level of alert, concern, there's a lot of chaos. And they have commercial flights still leaving the Tehran airport, which I think is just amazingly irresponsible."

David Soucie, a former inspector with the FAA, agreed and said the passengers likely had no idea the plane was being flown "right into a war zone"

"It's just completely irresponsible."

See more of what they had to say here

12:29 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020

Rouhani admits Iran shot down passenger plane

From CNN’s Radina Gigova in Atlanta

Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images
Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that the investigation of Iran’s Armed Forces has concluded that missiles fired "due to human error" caused the crash of the Ukrainian plane.

"Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane (and) death of 176 innocent people. Investigations continue to identify (and) prosecute this great tragedy (and) unforgivable mistake," Rouhani said on his official Twitter account.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences," he added.

12:36 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020

Iran blames increased radar activity and fear of US aggression as cause for downed Ukrainian aircraft

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian in Atlanta

Hours after the missile operation in Iraq, US military flights around the borders of Iran increased and Iranian military officials reported seeing aerial targets that were coming towards Iran’s strategic centers, according to a statement released by Iranian Armed Forces Headquarters.

Numerous defense centers around Iran reported seeing increased radar activity which caused a heightened sensitivity in the aerial defense centers of the country, the statement added. 

Under such sensitive and crucial conditions, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 took off from Imam Khomeini Airport and while in rotation, the aircraft came close to a sensitive IRGC military center at an altitude and flight condition that resembled hostile targeting.

Due to these circumstances, the aircraft was unintentionally hit, which unfortunately resulted in death of the many Iranian and foreign nationals, the statement said. 

12:36 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020

Iran's Foreign Minister says investigation shows "human error" caused shooting down of Ukrainian plane

In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said "human error" led to the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 disaster.

“A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”

The Iranian military earlier said the plane was accidentally shot down shortly after takeoff over Tehran on Wednesday.  

https://twitter.com/JZarif/status/1215847283381755914

12:36 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020

Iran admits they shot down Ukrainian plane unintentionally

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian in Atlanta

The general staff of Iran's armed forces says that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which crashed just after taking off from Tehran's airport on January 8, was brought down due to human error, according to state-run Press TV.

Iran targeted the passenger plane unintentionally, Press TV reported.

US officials previously said they thought the plane had been shot down with two Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, likely by accident.

9:22 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Washington Post: Trump angry with ally Matt Gaetz for urging Republicans to vote for Iran war powers resolution

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz pushed his fellow Republicans to buck President Trump and vote in support of the Iran war powers resolution, aimed at curbing the President's power to take military action, according to The Washington Post.

The Post reported that Gaetz's office had sent an email to all Republican offices Thursday, urging them to vote in favor of the resolution—which the President and his team were lobbying his party to vote against. That attempt to convince other Republicans, along with his own vote, made Gaetz the subject of Trump's ire, the Post and CNN reported.

"We WILL be voting in favor of H. Con. Res. 83, and hope you will do the same!" Gaetz's legislative director wrote in an email obtained by the Post.

Gaetz has been a strong Trump supporter and a fierce defender of the President, including in the impeachment inquiry.

A source familiar with the matter told CNN on Friday that Trump told associates he wasn't very happy with Gaetz's vote, but it's not expected to have a lasting impact on their relationship. Some House Republicans tried to talk Gaetz out of voting for the resolution but he was committed to supporting it, the source said.

Gaetz said during an interview on Thursday that he knew he had rankled the President.

"I think he would've preferred I voted differently, but he understands my principled view on this subject," Gaetz told CNN, after saying he had spoken to Trump about the vote.

7:05 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Foreign minister now says 57 Canadians were killed in the crash

The number of Canadian victims of the Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 crash in Tehran, Iran now stands at 57, according to Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. 

He said the number was updated from 63 to 57 based on new information about birth dates and travel documents.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked for an emergency task force to be set up to support the families of the victims, Champagne said.

Trudeau has also asked for a dedicated process to address Visa issues for those affected by the crash.

“Our priority at this time is providing support to the affected families,” Champagne said.

To date the Iranians have issues two Visas for Canadian investigators to enter the country, and Canada hopes another 10 will be issued soon, he said.

“We are pushing for a more active role for the Canadian investigators,” Champagne told reporters.

Canadian investigators have been sent to the region to help with the identification of victims and help with the investigation of the crash, he said.

Canada has also established an international coordination and response group, which includes Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and the UK, according to Champagne.

“Canada’s objectives remain closure, transparency, accountability and justice,” he said.