The site of a Ukrainian airplane crash near Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, Iran.

  • Iran's regime knew right away that it shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet on Jan. 8 but denied responsibility for days, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday, citing a leaked audio recording, Reuters reported.
  • The recording is of an Iran Aseman Airlines pilot communicating with air traffic control in Tehran. The pilot informs the control tower that he saw "the light of a missile" and an "explosion" as the tower tries and fails to contact Ukraine International Airlines flight 752.
  • Zelenskiy said in a television interview that the recording "proves that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane had been hit by a missile."
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Iranian officials knew it shot down a passenger jet and lied about it for days, Ukraine said Sunday, citing a leaked audio recording of an Iranian pilot communicating with air traffic control in Tehran.

In the leaked audio recording - said to be from the night Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 was shot down - a pilot for Iran Aseman Airlines radioed the air traffic control tower to tell them he saw the "light of a missile," Reuters reports.

The control tower can reportedly be heard trying, unsuccessfully, to reach the Ukrainian passenger aircraft on the radio as the Iranian pilot says he saw "an explosion."

Aseman Flight 3768 was close enough to the airport in Tehran to see the blast, the Associated Press reported, citing publicly-available flight-tracking data.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a television interview that the recording "proves that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane had been hit by a missile."

UIA said, according to Reuters, that the audio is "yet more proof that the UIA airplane was shot down with a missile, and there were no restrictions or warnings from dispatchers of any risk to flights of civilian aircraft in the vicinity of the airport."

UIA flight 752 was flying from Tehran to Kiev on Jan. 8 when it was suddenly shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, killing all of the 176 people on board. The aircraft was downed just hours after Iran had launched a barrage of ballistic missiles at US forces in Iraq in retaliation for a US drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, then head of the elite Quds Force, and the country's air defense systems were on high alert.

Iran initially said the aircraft likely crashed as the result of a mechanical error, but on Jan. 9 reports began to surface in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe indicating that intelligence suggested the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. Iran vehemently denied the accusations.

But, on Jan. 11, Iran admitted that it accidentally shot down the commercial airliner, blaming the tragic incident on "human error." Ultimately, though, Iran still blamed the US, arguing that US actions, specifically the killing of Soleimani, had led to a dangerous spike in tensions that resulted in the shoot-down. Iranian citizens and international observers questioned why Iran didn't ground civilian air traffic after its missile attack on US-occupied bases in Iraq.

Iran says it mistook the airliner for an enemy missile. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the shoot-down a "grave tragedy" and an "unforgivable mistake."

Iran's Civil Aviation Organization is in charge of investigating aviation incidents, with one official saying that Ukraine's decision to release the confidential recording, which aired on Ukrainian television, has "led to us not sharing any more information with them."

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