The missile attack occured just hours after Iran fired 15 ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. military personnel, in response to the U.S. killing Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani. After the attack, the flight to Ukraine took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomenei International Airport, which was operating throughout the military action.
According to U.S. officials, an Iranian anti-aircraft missile system shot down the plane. All 176 passengers, most of them Iranian or Canadian citizens, were killed.
“Innocent civilians are now dead because they were caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat,” Buttigieg wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts are with the families and loved ones” of the victims.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked at a press conference on Thursday whether he thought the U.S. might be to blame for the crash. “I think it is too soon to be drawing conclusions” and assigning blame, Trudeau said, according to the Winnipeg News.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has promised to determine the cause of the crash, which Iranian state media blamed on technical malfunctions in the aircraft.
“We will definitely find out the truth. We will conduct a detailed and independent investigation,” Zelensky said on Thursday.
While Republican congressmen in general backed the strike on Soleimani, Democrats faulted President Trump for failing to coordinate with Congress in the run-up to the strike. Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky blasted the executive branch for what they considered an insufficient justification for the strike on top of the lack of coordination.
“It is not acceptable for officials within the executive branch of government…to come in and tell us that we can’t debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran,” Lee told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s wrong. And I hope and expect that they will show more deference to their limited power in the future.”