Rescue team work at the scene where an Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran's main airport, killing all onboard. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

WASHINGTON - A Ukraine airliner that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard, was most likely brought down accidentally by Iranian air defenses, US officials said on Thursday.

One US official said US satellites had detected the launch of two missiles shortly before the plane crashed, followed by evidence of an explosion. Two officials said Washington believed the downing of the plane was accidental.

The Pentagon declined to comment. 

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said the deadly crash of a Ukrainian plane could have been a mistake, adding that he had a terrible feeling about the downed airliner but offered no evidence.

"Somebody could have made a mistake," Trump told reporters at the White House.

He added that he had suspicions about the crash but gave no other details.

Meanwhile,  Trump said on Thursday he has approved increased sanctions on Iran after a missile strike this week on Iraqi bases housing American military personnel, but gave no other details.

"It's already been done. We've increased them. They were very severe, but now it's increased substantially," Trump told reporters at the White House. 

"I just approved it a little while ago with Treasury," he said. 

Rescue team work at the scene where an Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran's main airport, killing all onboard. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Reuters