Canada forms own probe into Iran downing of Ukraine plane

Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752 was shot down shortly after taking off from Tehran in January

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 8, 2020 rescue teams are seen at the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after take-off near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran. Iran said on January 11 that it unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian plane due to 'human error'. / AFP / IRNA / IRNA / Akbar TAVAKOLI

Canada is forming its own forensic examination and assessment team to examine evidence and information after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down a Ukrainian jetliner in January, killing all 176 people on board.

The office of Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne told The Associated Press the team will collect, organise and analyse all available information, evidence and intelligence about after the January 8 crash near Tehran, and will advise the Canadian government on its credibility.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 03, 2020, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne meets with Latvia's President in Riga on March 3, 2020. Canada has walked away from free trade talks with China amid soured relations over a Huawei executive's arrest and the detention of two Canadians in apparent retaliation, Champagne said in a newspaper interview on September 18, 2020.  / AFP / Gints Ivuskans

“This is yet another step to uncover the truth, hold the Iranian regime to account and seek justice for the families of the victims. We will spare no efforts on behalf of the families of the victims to obtain justice and closure,” Mr Champagne said in a statement provided to the AP.

The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, more than 50 Canadians — including many Iranians with dual citizenship — and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials. The route was popular with those travelling onward to Canada.

The incident happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting US soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone strike that killed General Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad on January 3.

Iran announced last month it retrieved some data, including a portion of cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian jetliner accidentally downed in January.

FILE PHOTO: Soldiers carry a coffin containing the remains of one of the eleven Ukrainian victims of the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 plane disaster during a memorial ceremony at the Boryspil International Airport, outside Kiev, Ukraine January 19, 2020. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY/File Photo

The head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation said in August that the Ukrainian passenger plane’s black boxes have only 19 seconds of conversation following the first explosion, though the second missile reached the plane 25 seconds later.

The Canadian government previously dismissed Iran’s reports as limited and containing selected information, and said Tehran still has many questions to answer.

Iran initially denied responsibility for the crash before admitting — in the face of mounting evidence and international pressure — the Boeing 737-800 went down after being hit by two surface-to-air missiles.