Newly revealed surveillance video circulating on social media appears to show two missiles slamming into a Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed, killing all 176 people aboard minutes after takeoff from Tehran a week ago.
Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, told USA TODAY it’s possible the plane would have survived the first hit.
“It’s conceivable that if they hadn’t fired the second shot, the outcome might have been different,” Goelz said. “The second shot was the kill shot that took them out.”
The video was verified by The New York Times and Storyful, a social media company owned by the parent of The Wall Street Journal. USA TODAY has not independently verified the authenticity of the video.
The blurry video appears to show a missile launching from a site near Imam Khomeini International Airport and hitting the plane, moments before the second one hits. In flames, the plane circles back to the airport. It crashed minutes later, just missing a village near the airport.
The video might explain why the plane’s transponder failed before the crash.
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U.S. officials identified the weapon as the Gauntlet, a Russian-made SA-15 surface-to-air missile system. Goelz said he is not surprised that it took two missiles to take down the plane.
“A single missile designed to take down fighter planes would not ordinarily take down a 737,” Goelz told USA TODAY. “This was not ‘Top Gun,’ not a two-seat plane. I don’t know if the (737) pilots could have made a safe landing, but they could probably have controlled it a little bit.”
For three days, the Iranian military rejected claims that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down. Then Saturday, the military issued a statement saying the plane was accidentally shot down after being misidentified as a cruise missile “due to human error at a time of heightened U.S. threats of war.”
The news triggered angry protests across the country, and news of a second missile could further inflame Iranians outraged by the government’s handling of the tragedy.
Fahim Masoud, Middle East regional intelligence manager for the risk assessment firm WorldAware, said the plane disaster exposed the incompetence of the regime and its military forces. It also reflected the government’s fears of an overwhelming U.S. strike, he told USA TODAY.
“The second missile strike will definitely trigger outrage both inside and outside Iran,” Masoud said. “This incident will haunt the Iranian regime and Iranians for years to come.
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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have promised a thorough investigation. Most of the passengers were Iranian or Canadian, and representatives of those countries met with Ukrainian authorities Tuesday to share information on the crash. Several arrests were announced.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have heightened since President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement designed to curb Iran’s nuclear intentions. Relations grew hotter still after a U.S. drone strike in Iraq targeted and killed an Iranian general viewed by much of the West as a terrorist.
Iran promised a response, and days later, missiles slammed into Iraqi military bases housing U.S. soldiers. Hours later, tragedy struck over Tehran.
“The terrible catastrophe should be thoroughly investigated, and those responsible for this unforgivable mistake will definitely be identified and prosecuted,” Rouhani said.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Iran attack: Ukraine plane hit by 2 missiles, video reportedly shows