Iran backtracks on plan to send flight recorders to Ukraine

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Updated 19 January 2020

Iran backtracks on plan to send flight recorders to Ukraine

  • An Iranian official said “the flight recorders from the Ukrainian Boeing are in Iranian hands and we have no plans to send them out”
  • He said Iran is working to recover the data and cabin recordings, and that it may send the flight recorders to Ukrain or France

TEHRAN: The Iranian official leading the investigation into the Ukrainian jetliner that was accidentally shot down by the Revolutionary Guard appeared to backtrack Sunday on plans to send the flight recorders abroad for analysis, a day after saying they would be sent to Kiev.
Hassan Rezaeifar was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency as saying “the flight recorders from the Ukrainian Boeing are in Iranian hands and we have no plans to send them out.”
He said Iran is working to recover the data and cabin recordings, and that it may send the flight recorders — commonly known as black boxes — to Ukraine or France. “But as of yet, we have made no decision.”
The same official was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Saturday as saying the recorders would be sent to Ukraine, where French, American and Canadian experts would help analyze them. Iranian officials previously said the black boxes were damaged but are usable.
It was not immediately possible to reconcile the conflicting accounts. Iran may be hesitant to turn over the recorders for fear that more details from the crash — including the harrowing 20 seconds between when the first and second surface-to-air missiles hit the plane — will come to light.
The Guard’s air defenses shot the plane down shortly after it took off from Tehran on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people on board. Hours earlier, the Guard had launched ballistic missiles at US troops in Iraq in response to the US airstrike that killed Iran’s top general in Baghdad. Officials say lower-level officers mistook the plane for a US cruise missile.
Iranian officials initially said the crash was caused by a technical problem and invited countries that lost citizens to help investigate. Three days later, Iran admitted responsibility after Western leaders said there was strong evidence the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile.
The victims included 57 Canadian citizens as well as 11 Ukrainians, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans and four British citizens. Most of those killed were Iranians. The other five nations have demanded Iran accept full responsibility and pay compensation to the victims’ families.
The plane was a Boeing 737-800 that was designed and built in the US The plane’s engine was designed by CFM International, a joint company between French group Safran and US group GE Aviation. Investigators from both countries have been invited to take part in the probe.


Egypt building wall along Gaza border: security source

Updated 3 min 59 sec ago

Egypt building wall along Gaza border: security source

  • Dozens of workers aided by cranes could be seen erecting the structure
  • It wil will stretch from Gaza's southeastern tip to the Rafah crossing with Egypt

GAZA CITY: Egypt has begun building a concrete wall along its border with Gaza, said AFP journalists and a Palestinian security official from Hamas, which controls the enclave, on Wednesday.
Dozens of workers aided by cranes could be seen erecting the structure, which will stretch from Gaza’s southeastern tip to the Rafah crossing with Egypt, the only gateway out of Gaza that does not lead into Israel.
The wall is being built along the lines of an old, lower barrier that includes an underground structure designed to curb smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.
Contacted by AFP, Egypt’s military declined to comment on the new structure.
A Hamas security source told AFP that the goal was “to complete (the wall) as quickly as possible.”

A picture taken in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip at the border with Egypt shows a crane at the construction site of a wall on the Egyptian side of the border on Feb. 19, 2020. (AFP)

“The important thing for us is to control the border and prevent any illegal activity there,” including any cross-border trafficking, the a said.
A security delegation from Egypt led by General Ahmed Abdel Khalek, who heads Palestinian affairs at Egypt’s intelligence agency, was in Gaza last week seeking to restore calm between Hamas and Israel.
Hamas and the Jewish state have fought three wars since 2008.
Egypt, long a mediator between the two sides, and key Gaza donor Qatar strongly pushed for de-escalation last year.
A truce was quietly agreed but it was not endorsed by Islamic Jihad, another major armed group in Gaza that Israel says is backed by Iran.
Israel’s military said Wednesday that it had “identified a sniper squad of the Islamic Jihad terror organization” firing on troops from Khan Yunis in Gaza.
It said no troops were injured but Israeli forces returned fire and “a hit was identified.”
Officials in Gaza said an Islamic Jihad fighter was slightly injured.