THE HAGUE - Dutch intelligence has information that a Ukrainian airliner that crashed in Iran was probably hit by a missile, a minister said on Friday, becoming the latest western country to suggest the plane was brought down.
Canada and Britain have already suggested that the crash -- in which all 176 people on board the plane were killed -- was caused by an accidental missile strike by Iranian forces, but Tehran has dismissed the claims.
"Based on the information from the MIVD (Dutch military intelligence), we can state that it is likely that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile has led to the crash of the aircraft," defense minister Ank Bijleveld was quoted as saying by a spokesman after a cabinet meeting.
Bijleveld gave no further details of the information or how the Netherlands, which did not have any nationals on board the Ukrainian Boeing 737, obtained it.
The crash happened after Tehran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said separately in Brussels that it was "indeed very likely that the plane has been shot down by Iranian missiles".
Asked whether Iran should face EU sanctions, Blok said it was "important that independent research makes clear what exactly happened".
The minister said that the Netherlands had offered assistance to Canada, which had 63 of its nationals on the plane.
"Unfortunately the Netherlands has experience from MH17," he said referring to Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014 with the loss of 296 people on board.
Investigators say a missile fired by pro-Russian separatists was to blame and the trial of four people over the crash is due to start in the Netherlands in March.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has offered Canadian premier Justin Trudeau "all the support that the Netherlands can offer" after Trudeau called him to ask about his experiences with MH17, the Dutch press agency ANP said.
Trudeau said on Thursday that multiple intelligence sources suggested Iran shot down the plane.