RCMP tasked with helping to identify Canadian victims of Flight PS752 crash

RCMP tasked with helping to identify Canadian victims of Flight PS752 crash

The RCMP has been assigned to help identify the remains of the Canadians killed in the destruction of a Ukrainian passenger plane outside of Tehran last week.

The RCMP runs the Canadian bureau of the the international police agency Interpol.

"The RCMP can confirm that Interpol Ottawa received a request for assistance. It is currently working with Canadian police of jurisdiction to collect some DNA samples from Canadian victims' families, within Canada, to assist with the identification of the victims," said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Caroline Duval in an email.

Duval said the national police force's DNA databank will use those samples to create profiles, which will then be sent back to the Interpol team in Tehran.

She said that, so far, there's been no need to send Canadian identification investigators to Iran. 

Meanwhile, Iranian media reported on Tuesday that Canadian transportation investigators visited the crash site of Flight PS752, which Iran says was shot down accidentally last week by the regime's Revolutionary Guard using surface-to-air missiles.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters

The visit to the site took place after experts from Iran, Canada and Ukraine met in Tehran, Iran's ISNA news agency reported.

Transportation Safety Board chair Kathy Fox also has said Iran has indicated Canadian investigators will have access to the black box flight data recorders from the plane, but cautioned Canada's role in the investigation beyond that remains unclear.

"Canada's role is evolving. It remains to be seen how far we're going to be able to go," she told a Monday news conference in Ottawa.

"We're kind of going day-by-day right now in terms of how long they're going to be there, what they're going to be able to do and when they'll come out of there."

The TSB investigators' visit is happening after Iran's judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili said that "extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals are arrested."

His statement on the judiciary's website did not name the arrested individuals or say how many had been detained.

Meanwhile, a new video uploaded to YouTube from Iran appears to show the moment Flight PS752 was hit by two missiles. CBC has not independently verified the video, but the New York Times reported it has confirmed the video is security camera footage that shows two missiles striking the airliner.

WATCH | New video shows 2 missiles hitting Ukrainian jetliner:

Leaders meeting Thursday to push for accountability

The plane crash happened just hours after Iran launched air strikes against two military bases in Iraq where U.S. forces, and some Canadians, were stationed. The move was seen as retaliation for the Trump administration's targeted killing of Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, the week before.

On Tuesday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have discussed the need to "punish" the Iranians responsible for downing the Ukrainian airliner.

Canada, Ukraine and their international allies are preparing for a Thursday meeting where they're expected to push Iran for justice for the families of the victims.

Trudeau has said he believes the victims would all be safely back in Canada right now had it not been for the recent escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States.

"I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families," he said in an interview with Global News Monday.