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Ukraine says Iran statement confirms its suspicions on plane crash

General view of the debris of the Ukraine International Airlines, flight PS752, Boeing 737-800 plane that crashed after take-off from Iran's Imam Khomeini airport, on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran January 8, 2020 is seen in this screen grab obtained from a social media video via REUTERS

KIEV (Reuters) - A statement by Iran saying it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane confirms one of the working theories of the Ukrainian state security service (SBU) on what caused the crash, SBU chief Ivan Bakanov said on Saturday.

Contrary to what some experts had said initially, the SBU thought Iran’s anti-aircraft missile system had been operated manually rather than automatically, Bakanov said in a statement.

Iran said it had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane killing all 176 aboard and voiced deep regret, after initially denying it brought down the aircraft in the tense aftermath of Iranian missile strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams. Editing by Jane Merriman