Iran acknowledges it fired 2 missiles at Ukrainian jet

A rescue worker searches the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed

Two Tor-M1 short-range surface-to-air missiles were launched at the Boeing 737-800 from the north, Bloomberg cited Iran's Civil Aviation Organization as saying in its second preliminary investigation report.

The report identifies missiles fired at the aircraft as coming from the TOR-M1 system.

The report did not definitively blame the missiles for the crash, saying their impact "on the accident and the analysis of this action is under investigation".

The black boxes sustained physical damage, but their memory is intact after the flight was hit by two missiles within three minutes of taking off from Tehran's airport on January 8, the report says. But authorities delayed admitting this, prompting days of protests in Iran.

Ukranian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told reporters that Ukraine will ask Iran to hand over the black boxes from the downed Ukranian passenger plane when the Iranian delegation visits for a meeting on Monday. "We will demand the creation of a group that will work together in Iran to collect data, access to all sources of information, negotiations, dispatch data, aviation data, etc.", he said.

But it suggested Iran wants to keep them for now.

"The black boxes are key to the investigation and there are rules around making sure that they are analysed quickly and properly in cases such as these".

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It said it had also sought the transfer of the equipment, but added that neither the BEA nor NTSB had "so far responded positively". Canada, which had 57 passengers, said France was the best place to send the black boxes because it was one of the few nations that they could read.

The victims of the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals.

A further delay in sending them overseas is likely to increase worldwide pressure on Iran, whose military has said it shot the plane down by mistake while on high alert in the tense hours after Iran fired missiles at US targets in Iraq.

The Canadian Press has independently confirmed at least 90 victims with ties to Canada, many of them students and professors returning after spending the December break visiting relatives in Iran.

Initially, the Iranian armed forced denied any responsibility.

Longstanding US-Iran tensions have soared since May 2018 when Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal that offered Tehran sanctions relief in return for curbs to prevent it acquiring nuclear weapons.

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