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Iran Retrieves Data, Cockpit Talk From Downed Ukraine Plane

TEHRAN, Iran—Iran has retrieved some data, including a portion of the cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian jetliner that was accidentally downed by the Revolutionary Guard forces in January, killing all 176 people on board, an Iranian official said on Aug. 23.

Thats according to a report on the website of Irans Civil Aviation Organization, which described the officials remarks as part of the final report that Tehran plans to issue on the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

The development comes months after the Jan. 8 crash near Tehran. Iranian authorities had initially denied responsibility, only changing course days later, after Western nations presented extensive evidence that Iran had shot down the plane.

The shootdown happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting U.S. soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone strike that killed Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3.

At the time, Iranian troops were bracing for a U.S. counterstrike and appeared to have mistaken the plane for a missile. Iran, however, has not acknowledged that, only saying that after the missile attack, its air defense was sufficiently alert and had allowed previously scheduled air traffic to resume—a reference to the Ukrainian plane being allowed to take off from Tehran amid such an unprecedented crisis.

The Ukrainian passenger plane was apparently targeted by two missiles. The plane had just taken off from Tehrans Imam Khomeini International Airport when the first missile exploded, possibly damaging its radio equipment. The second missile likely directly struck the aircraft, as videos from that night show the plane exploding into a ball of fire before crashing into a playground and farmland on the outskirts of the Iranian capital.

For days after the crash, Iranian investigators combed the site, sifting through the debris of the plane.

The head of Irans Civil Aviation Organization, Capt. Touraj Dehghani Zangeneh, said on Aug. 23 that the planes black boxes have only 19 seconds of conversation following the first explosion, though the second missile reached the plane 25 seconds later. The report quoting him didnt elaborate.

He said the first missile explosion sent shrapnel into the plane, likely disrupting the planes recorders. He didnt reveal any details of the cockpit conversation that was retrieved.

Representatives from the United States, Ukraine, France, Canada, Britain, and Sweden—countries whose citizens were killed in the crash—were present during the process to gather data from the recorders, Zangeneh said.

In the months since the downing of the plane, Iran has struggled with vast domestic economic problems and a major health crisis. It has the Middle Easts largest and deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus, with more than 358,000 confirmed cases, including 20,643 deaths. The Iranian government is also grappling with both crushing U.S. sanctions, as well as the Trump administrations push to impose so-called “snapback” sanctions on Iran over what Washington says is Irans violation of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

In July, an initial report from the Iranian investigation said that a misaligned missile battery, miscommunication between troops and their commanders, and a decision to fire without authorization all led to the fatal downing of the jetliner.

The report said the surface-to-air missile battery that targeted the Boeing 737-800 had been relocated and was not properly reoriented. Those manning the missile battery could not communicate with their command center, they misidentified the civilian flight as a threat, and opened fire twice without getting approval from ranking officials, it said.

Western intelligence officials and analysts believe Iran shot down the aircraft with a Russian-made Tor system, knownRead More – Source

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