By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the hours after the Iranian missile attack on a base with U.S. troops in Iraq, a Ukrainian passenger plane, carrying 176 people, crashed shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board.

Now, U.S officials say they are confident Iran shot down the plane, targeting it by mistake.

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“It’s a tragic thing when I see that,” President Donald Trump said.

The President, choosing not to escalate things Thursday said, “somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”

“That basically shows that he doesn’t want to put the blame on the Iranian government,” Hamline University Professor Binnur Ozkececi-Taner, Ph.D. said.

Hamline University Professor Binnur Taner says a thorough investigation is needed, which could take a year or longer and likely will not involve Boeing or the U.S.

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Mostly Iranians and Canadians were on board the plane but no Americans were.

“If there had been American citizens on board I think the U.S. would have taken a stronger position,” Taner explained.

If this crash turns out to be a tragic mistake it would not be the first time this has happened.

In 1988, The U.S. military shot down an Iranian commercial jet by mistake, killing all 290 onboard. But Professor Taner says the heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran significantly narrows the margin for error.

“It’s getting more and more difficult and we don’t really know if there will be political willingness to deescalate the situation if we see another miscalculation by either of these countries,” Taner said.

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While Boeing officials will not be part of the investigation for now, there are Ukrainian investigators on the ground in Tehran.

Erin Hassanzadeh