Report: U.S. officials believe Iran accidentally shot down Ukrainian jetliner

From Steven Portnoy, a reporter with CBS Radio:

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That’s … not good.

Then again, one always wonders if this is another Gulf of Tonkin — or in our case, Golf of Ton-King — incident.

If this is confirmed, who knows where that puts us?

Before Portnoy’s report, there had been speculation about the cause of the crash.

From an earlier CBS News report:

A senior Ukrainian security official said Thursday that his government was looking into four possible causes for the sudden crash of a passenger jet in Iran, including a possible missile strike. Oleksiy Danylov, secretary of Ukraine's national security council, said Ukrainian investigators wanted to search for any missile fragments after information “appeared on the internet” suggesting debris from a Russian anti-aircraft missile was found.

Danylov specifically cited unconfirmed claims online that fragments of a possible Russian-made Tor surface-to-air missile had been discovered.

CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports that holes in some of the wreckage at the crash site have drawn comparisons to damage done to the Malaysia Air flight that was shot out of the sky over Ukraine more than five years ago.

Then again, it doesn’t make much sense if Iran really is seeking to deescalate tensions. And we literally can’t believe a thing this administration tells us. So there’s that.

Still …

Stay tuned. This could get ugly.

UPDATE: There’s more information, including a video report, at this link.

UPDATE 2: Newsweek is reporting that U.S. officials believe the attack was accidental:

One Pentagon and one U.S senior intelligence official told Newsweek that the Pentagon's assessment is that the incident was accidental. Iran's anti-aircraft were likely active following the country's missile attack, which came in response to the U.S. killing last week of Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, sources said.

U.S. Central Command declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Newsweek. No reply was returned from the National Security Council or State Department.

Even if it is an accident, the blame falls squarely on Donald Trump for the deaths of these innocent souls. This is what happens in the fog of war. And this is a war (or skirmish, if you will) that Trump singlehandedly started with the assassination of Qasem Soleimani and, before that, his abrogation of the Iran nuclear deal.

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