New Delhi: A day after 176 people died after a Ukraine International Airlines flight crashed in Iran, two US officials claimed it was ‘highly likely’ that the Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed the plane.

Though the US believed that the Ukraine airliner that crashed and killed 176 people was accidentally brought down by Iran, the Pentagon, on the other hand, declined to comment on the matter.

The statement from the US officials assumes significance as the plane crash happened just few hours after Iran launched an attack with ballistic missile against Iraqi military bases housing US troops. The US officials felt that it could have been a mistake and Iran might have thought airliner as a threat.

A total of 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight were killed when the plane crashed in Iran in Wednesday early morning. Of the total passengers, 147 passengers were Iranians and 32 passengers were foreigners.

As per updates from local media, 176 passengers died when the Ukrainian plane Boeing 737 crashed in southern Tehran after its engine caught fire.

The crash happened when the plane was on its way to Kiev in Ukraine from Tehran. As per Iran’s news agency ISNA, the crash was due to technical difficulties.

On the same day, Iran in retaliation to US airstrike launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq. It targeted at least two bases at Al-Asad and Abril, Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday.