On January 8, a civilian Ukrainian passenger plane was hit by a missile, killing all 176 on board. At the time, Iran denied for days knowing anything about the shocking event, but eventually, the Islamic Republic admitted that it was one of their missiles that destroyed the plane. Now, new leaked audio allegedly reveals that Iranian authorities knew right away that their missile had downed the aircraft.
According to AP News, the plane was lifting off from an airport in Tehran before it was accidentally hit by a missile. Initially, Iranian officials said that it wasn't a missile that brought down the plane, insisting that they didn't know that the Revolutionary Guard had shot down the plane and suggesting it could have been an explosion on the aircraft.
It wasn't until a few days later that the country was forced to admit to the mistake after some U.S. leaders and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that they believed the aircraft had been shot down.
The leaked recordings allegedly reveal an exchange between the pilot and an air traffic controller in which the pilot clearly indicates that he believes a missile may be headed toward the plane
"A series of lights like... yes, it is a missile, is there something?" the pilot asked. "It is the light of a missile."
The pilot confirmed that it saw the lights emerging from Payam Airport, where the missile was ultimately determined to have launched from.
"Dear engineer, it was an explosion. We saw a very big light there, I don't really know what it was," the pilot says.
At that point, the air traffic controllers lost contact with the jetliner.Authorities in Iran would have access to the air traffic control recordings.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he believes that the recording confirms that Iran knew right away that it had shot the plane.
"The recording, indeed, shows that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane was shot down by a missile, they were aware of this at the moment of the shooting," he said.
Ukraine has asked for the flight recorders from the plane, and while Iranian officials initially agreed to the request, they later backtracked after Zelensky insisted that he should be able to bring the recorders back with him to Kyiv.
"This action by the Ukrainians makes us not want to give them any more evidence," an Iranian leader said.
Iran has blamed the action on President Donald Trump, saying that it was his attack that killed Ukrainian leader Qassem Soleimani, forcing the country to retaliate, which caused the incident.