The latest on Iran plane crash

By Fernando Alfonso III, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Tara John and Caitlin Hu, CNN

Updated 4:23 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020
48 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:10 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

3 detained on suspicion of leaking Soleimani's movements to US

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq, Jomana Karadsheh and Ingrid Formanek in Baghdad 

Three people working at Baghdad International Airport were detained by Iraqi authorities late Thursday on suspicion of having leaked detailed information of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani’s movements to the Americans, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The two sources spoke with CNN on the condition of anonymity due to security concerns.

The three detained workers are Iraqi nationals, the sources said.

Iraqi authorities launched an investigation this week into the circumstances surrounding the US strike that killed Soleimani and a top Iraqi paramilitary figure.

Investigators are pursuing what they suspect is a "spy network" believed to have leaked information and details of Soleimani's movements to the Americans. 

The Iraqi investigators believe that the suspected leaked information was key to the US operation that killed Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) — an umbrella group of Iranian backed Shia paramilitary groups. 

The investigation, headed by Faleh al-Fayadh, Iraq's national security adviser and head of the PMU, has focused on questioning security personnel at Baghdad International Airport, where the strike took place last Friday. 

Soleimani flew to Baghdad international Airport from Damascus, according to the sources.

A parallel investigation is being conducted by Syrian authorities at the Damascus International Airport, the sources said, adding the Iraqi and Syrian investigators are communicating with each other.

2:47 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

US unsuccessfully targeted another Iranian military official on the same day as Soleimani

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen

On the same night the US killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, the US unsuccessfully targeted another senior Iranian military official in Yemen, according to a US official with knowledge of the events and another source familiar.

The sources would not give any details about the mission or how the US had attempted to carry it out. The US official said to the best of their knowledge there is no broader operation to decapitate the IRGC-Quds force leadership at this time.

The Washington Post first reported this additional target.

According to the Washington Post, the Iranian target was Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

12:28 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

What you need to know about the missile US officials say took down the plane

The SA-15 surface-to-air missile system — which US officials say shot down the plane in the early hours of Wednesday —is a Russian-made air defense system known as Tor.

The short-range, ground-based missile system, also known as Gauntlet by NATO, integrates the radar and missile launcher on a vehicle, according to Jane's by IHS Markit.

Its short-range missiles are designed to hit targets at altitudes of up to 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) and a range of up to 15 km (9.3 miles), and can destroy a number of targets — helicopters, guided missiles and tactical and naval aircraft.

It is unclear whether the missile defense system was positioned around Imam Khomeini International Airport.

What Iran is saying: Iran dismissed the allegation as a "big lie" today. Ali Abedzadeh, the head of the Iran Civil Aviation Organization, said videos showing an object hitting the aircraft could not be confirmed scientifically.

12:12 p.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Ukrainian investigators are examining plane debris, foreign minister says

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll and Mary Ilyushina

Ukrainian investigators are examining chemical compounds on debris from the downed plane but don’t have enough evidence yet to “suggest this was a terrorist act or any unnatural events on board the aircraft,” the country's foreign minister said. 

Speaking at a briefing in Kiev, Vadym Prystaiko said a team of 50 investigators from Ukraine are on the ground in Iran and have found nothing from their analysis of the flight path to “indicate that the flight was endangered.”

"We are not rejecting any of the versions and are not looking for a more diplomatic path. Our main task is to find out the causes of the tragedy fairly,” Prystaiko said.
11:57 a.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Republican congressman says Pompeo's role in Soleimani killing raises some questions

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand 

Rep. Francis Rooney, one of the three House Republicans who voted in favor of the Iran War Powers resolution, said Friday morning that CNN’s reporting on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s role in urging President Trump to pursue the strike on Soleimani raises "some questions.”

“The Secretary of State is supposed to be our leading diplomat,” he said. "So when you start blurring those lines it does raise some questions.”

The Florida Republican, who is retiring at the end of the year, also said he didn’t know why more of his GOP colleagues did not vote in favor of the War Powers resolution.

“I really don’t know. I think there was some pressure by leadership or the White House,” Rooney told reporters. But he added that “no one bothered me” in advance of the vote.

11:54 a.m. ET, January 10, 2020

NATO chief has no reason "not to believe" Iranian missile shot down Ukrainian plane

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images
Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

NATO has "no reason to not believe" evidence from allied countries, including the US and Canada, that points to an Iranian missile downing the flight, the alliance’s chief said on Friday. 

Speaking in Brussels, Jens Stoltenberg said he would not go into details about NATO’s intelligence, but did say the alliance has "no reason to not believe the reports we have seen from different NATO ally capitals."

Stoltenberg called the crash a "tragedy" and emphasized the need for a "thorough and transparent” investigation and full cooperation from Iran."

11:31 a.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Ukrainian investigators now have access to black boxes from downed plane

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

Ukrainian investigators have access to the black boxes and recordings of communications between the pilot and Tehran flight control, the Ukrainian Foreign minister said.

Speaking at a briefing in Kiev today, Vadym Prystaiko said a team of Ukrainian investigators have the full cooperation from the Iranians. They haven't started examining the information yet.   

All theories as to why the plane went down are being considered, he added.

11:52 a.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Pompeo pushes back on reports of US troop withdrawal

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back on reports that the Iraqi prime minister has asked the US to start negotiations to begin US troop withdrawal. He reiterated, however, that the administration may pursue an eventual withdrawal down the line.

“He didn’t quite characterize the conversation correctly. But to the larger, more important point, we are happy to continue the conversation with the Iraqis about what the right structure is,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo continued:

“As times change and we get to a place where we deliver on what I believe and what the President believes is our right structure with fewer resources dedicated to that mission, we will do so." 

11:17 a.m. ET, January 10, 2020

Here's the executive order authorizing Iran sanctions

From CNN's Joe Johns

The White House just released Trump's executive order authorizing new sanctions on Iran.

It begins:

"I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, find that Iran continues to be the world's leading sponsor of terrorism and that Iran has threatened United States military assets and civilians through the use of military force and support to Iranian-backed militia groups."

Read more from the top of the letter: