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Buzzfeed says leaked audio recording shows Iran knew immediately that it shot down a Ukrainian plane

176 lives were lost

Photo by BORNA GHASSEMI/ISNA/AFP via Getty Images

Buzzfeed News' Christopher Miller said Monday that a snippet of leaked audio suggests that Iran knew immediately that it shot down a Ukrainian Boeing 737 in early January.

The massive crash took the lives of 176 people. The airplane had just taken off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport.

What are the details?

According to the outlet, the leaked audio footage features a conversation between an Iranian pilot on an incoming flight and an Iranian air traffic controller.

Buzzfeed's Miller reported that because of the interaction between the pilot and the air traffic controller, authorities in Tehran likely knew immediately that an Iranian missile had struck a Ukrainian passenger jet.

"If air traffic control was aware of something as hazardous as a missile being fired, it's likely to have notified government officials straightaway," Miller wrote.

Miller reported that the audio, which was broadcast on Sunday evening on a Ukrainian television channel, featured the exchange between the pilot and air traffic control. He also noted that the transmission "has been acknowledged as genuine" by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky as well as Hassan Rezaeifar, head of the Iranian investigation team.

Rezaeifar, according to Miller, said Iran would cut cooperation with Ukraine "due to the conversation being published."

"This file was among the materials provided to a group of experts who are investigating the disaster. [Its publication] by the Ukrainian side suggests that we will not transfer any materials to them anymore," Rezaeifar reportedly said.

A partial transcript follows:

Pilot: "There's a flare on the route, like something from a missile. Should anything like this be happening there?"

Controller: "Zone 320? How many miles away? Where?"

Pilot: "Can't say for sure. But I think it is near (airfield) Payam, (city) Karaj."

Tower: "How many miles? Where?"

Pilot: "I now see the light as it flies off of there."

Tower: "We were not informed of this."

Tower: "How does it look like? What does this light look like?"

Pilot: "That's definitely a flash from a missile."

Tower: "It's not flying toward the city (Tehran), is it?"

Pilot: "It might be. Oh, no it was flying from the direction of the city."

Tower: "We were informed of nothing, but keep watching."

What else?

Iran initially claimed that the flight crashed due to technical issues with the plane.

Later, however, Tehran admitted that its Revolutionary Guard inadvertently fired on the airliner because it believed the plane was incoming U.S. cruise missiles instead. Tehran was on high alert at the time, as Iran had only just hours prior launched missile strikes on U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. The missile strikes were in retaliation for the U.S.-sanctioned killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Following the crash, Reuters reported flames from the wreckage were "so heavy" no rescue was possible. Rescue measures included 26 ambulances and a helicopter.

There were no survivors.

One last thing…
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