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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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.

4:52 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Ukraine investigating whether a bomb was planted on the plane

From CNN's Clarissa Ward and Sebastian Shukla

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko is not ruling out that terrorism may be to blame for the downed Ukrainian airliner in Tehran.

Prystaiko said Ukraine is “still checking the internals of the plane as well trying to understand whether a bomb was planted in the plane itself," he told CNN.

He justified his concern by saying Ukraine was “not happy with the delay which was in the airport in Tehran before our plane could depart."

"We are investigating why it was a delay, why pieces of the luggage were unloaded," Prystaiko said

He continued: "As soon as we have something to share, we will do it. We understand people have to know the truth."

4:51 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Mike Pompeo and Canada's foreign minister discuss plane crash

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Alex Wong/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke today with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne about the plane crash and ongoing tension between the US and Iran.

The two men discussed the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, with Pompeo expressing his condolences to the victims' families, Global Affairs Canada said in a statement.

Champagne and Pompeo also discussed the intelligence that indicates that the plane was likely shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, perhaps unintentionally. Pompeo offered the US government’s full assistance in the ongoing investigation, the statement said.

When discussing the tension in the Middle East, Champagne emphasized the need for a de-escalation and reiterated Canada’s commitment to peace, stability and prosperity for the people of Iraq, the statement said.

3:58 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

The evidence presented to us "is very solid," Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Clarissa Ward and Sebastian Shukla

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told CNN that the intelligence passed from the US and the UK "is very solid."

Prystaiko added, however, that "what is missed in the picture is how they support it by the facts on the ground themselves."

More on this: On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prystaiko met with US representatives, including the Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Kiev, where the US has handed over “important data” to Ukraine with information on the deadly Ukrainian International airways jetliner crash.

3:36 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Investigators have seen black boxes, but "don’t have access" to information on them

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla and Clarissa Ward

Ukrainian investigators have physically seen the black boxes from the airliner crash but “don’t have access” to the information on them, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told CNN and CNN affiliate CTV in an interview in Kiev today.

"As of now we don’t have access to this [info on black boxes] but Iran are co-operating as of now.. and then we will be able to extract and analyze it," he said.