A Boeing 737 aircraft of Ukraine International Airlines crashed minutes after takeoff from Tehran International Airport killing all 176 passengers and crew members on board Wednesday, just hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers.
In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”
He added that the U.S. will impose further economic sanctions on Iran. Trump also said that his administration will work to ensure that Iran's regime is not allowed to continue their ambitions of developing nuclear weapons.
“As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” Trump said while calling on Iran to end its support of terrorist groups in the region.
Following the crash of the Ukrainian airline flight from Tehran to Kyiv, the airline announced it was suspending all flights to Tehran.
“Today, on January 08, 2020, a ‘Ukraine International Airlines’ aircraft while operating flight PS752 from Tehran to Kyiv disappeared from the radars a few minutes after departure from Tehran International Airport. The aircraft departed from Tehran International Airport at 06:10 hrs. Iran local time. According to preliminary data, there were 167 passengers and nine crew members on board,” Ukraine International Airlines said in a statement.
“The airline expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the air crash and will do everything possible to support the relatives of the victims. With immediate effect, UIA has decided to suspend its flights to Tehran until further notice,” the airline said.
Iranian Transport Ministry spokesman Gassem Biniaz told the Iranian state-run news agency IRNA that the aircraft crashed after one of the engines caught fire and the pilot lost control.
Ukraine officials initially ruled out a possible terror attack but later edited that statement noting: "Information on the causes of the plane crash is being verified by the commission. Any statements regarding the causes of the accident prior to the decision of the commission are unofficial."
Ukraine Airlines also said the aircraft was built in 2016 and had scheduled maintenance just two days ago.
“The aircraft was built in 2016 and delivered directly to the airline from the manufacturer. The last scheduled maintenance of the aircraft took place on 06 January, 2020,” the airline said.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, confirmed that among the dead from the crash are: 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians including two passengers and the nine crew members. There were also 10 Swedish, four Afghan, three German and three British nationals.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also called the crash “horrific” in a statement and said their government would do everything in their power to assist the relatives of the Ukrainian crash victims and assist with the investigation of the crash.
“In connection with the crash of the Boeing 737 aircraft of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS 752 Tehran to Kiev on January 8, 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the dead,” the statement from the ministry said.
“Ukraine will provide all necessary support and assistance to the relatives and loved ones of the fallen citizens of Ukraine. … Ukraine is also ready to engage as much as possible in investigating the causes of the disaster in accordance with international law, in particular, the Chicago Convention,” the statement added.
In a statement on Twitter Toronto Mayor John Tory said his city was mourning the crash victims.
“On behalf of all Toronto residents, we are saddened by the news of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. Our hearts are with Toronto's Iranian and Ukrainian communities today as we mourn the 176 people, including 63 Canadians, who have tragically died,” he said.
The crash came just hours after Iraqi military officials confirmed that Iran had fired 22 missiles at two military bases in Iraq where American troops are stationed as part of a “fierce revenge” for the U.S. military strike that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head if the Quds Force who orchestrated numerous terror plots worldwide and is responsible for the killing of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq and maiming thousands of others.
“The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said in a statement on a Telegram messaging app channel cited by The New York Times.
United States officials initially told the publication that there were no immediate indications of American casualties, and senior Iraqi officials later said that there were no American or Iraqi casualties in the strikes.