"U.S. intelligence picked up signals of the radar being turned on & satellite detected infrared blips of 2 missile launches, probably SA-15s, followed shortly by another infrared blip of an explosion," CBS transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave tweeted. He added that the incident could have been a mistake.
"The [current] thinking is the plane was mistakenly targeted. Remember it took off just hours after Iran launched its missile attack while the world waited to see if the U.S. would respond militarily," he continued.
The Associated Press corroborated CBS' report, saying it was "highly likely" Iran's anti-aircraft missiles targeted the doomed plane.
The passenger plane went down shortly after 6:20 a.m. local time. The 176 people on board were killed, including at least 63 Canadians who were traveling on the plane. The plane, operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, crashed Wednesday.
Officials also told Newsweek the incident was most likely accidental, as Iran's anti-aircraft "were likely active following the country's missile attack."
Iran's explanation of engine failure didn't make sense to aviation experts. "There was no way for Iran to know it was engine failure,” Mary Schiavo, an ex-U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general told Newsweek. "That is the wreckage of an explosion in the air. Something happened to blow that plane out of the air. Statistically speaking, that’s a missile or a bomb."
Late Thursday, the New York Times confirmed the veracity of a video circulating online that shows the exact moment the plane was hit by the missile.
According to NYT, a small explosion occurred after the plane was hit. It continued flying for several minutes en route to the airport, before exploding and ultimately crashing.