MH17 Becomes Collateral Damage from Rebels’ Blunder and Media Manipulation

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By Athena Yenko | July 24, 2014 10:52 AM EST

Theory that rebels targeted the plane by mistake heightened as significant tampering was done on the wreckage of the downed MH17, international monitoring group and US intelligence reports revealed.

REUTERS
A message of condolence is left among candles and flowers near the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17, which crashed in eastern Ukraine, in Kiev July 17, 2014.

US intelligence officials believe in the theory that the plane was downed by rebels by mistake, US office of the director of national intelligence (ODNI) said in a press conference attended by select reporters.

The press conference highlighted reports that the plane was downed by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by separatists supported by the Russian government. 

High-ranking US officials believe that Russia is maintaining a "training facility" for rebels.

"Among the contributing factors contributing to the preliminary assessment: training given by Russia to separatist rebels on air-defense weapons, which they have used in recent weeks to shoot down about a dozen aircraft. The officials said such training had taken place in south-west Russia, and that Ukrainian forces fighting the separatists have yet to fire a surface-to-air missile, as their conflict is on the ground," Spencer Ackerman from The Guardian exclusively reports.

It was implied that the rebels responsible for shooting down MH17 was being groomed through this training facility.

According to intelligence officials, a social media post from rebel commander Igor Girkin boasting of shooting down a plane was immediately removed when it became apparent that the plane was a civilian one.

"After it became evident that the plane was a civilian airliner, separatists deleted social media posts boasting about shooting down a plane," one intelligence official said.

"We are seeing a full court press by the Russian government to instruct affiliated or friendly elements to manipulate the media," the intelligence official added.

Meanwhile, someone was seen using power tools with important parts of the front of the plane had being removed, Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said.

OSCE is a monitoring group that was designated to investigate the site where MH17 had crashed.

The rebels had previously admitted that they had to cut into the wreckage to recover corpses. However, OSCE saw "significant altering" that had been "very invasive", ABC News exclusively reports.

The crash site remained unguarded and unsecured with the red-and-white tape partition won to shreds.

This revelation had put the alleged "terrorists supplied by Moscow" in the centre of the blame game, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius was quoted saying. Linkevicius now calls for Europe to impose stricter sanctions on Russia. According to him, France is already building two warships for the Russian navy.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko)
A message of condolence is left among candles and flowers near the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17, which crashed in eastern Ukraine, in Kiev July 17, 2014.
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