The worldwide team investigating the 2014 tragedy, in which Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, reiterated the claim that it was a Buk missile, but now claims it also pinpointed the exact unit responsible.
The investigative team said Thursday that the Buk missile system was towed to Ukrainian territory shortly before the attack and towed back to Russian territory shortly afterward.
The Boeing 777 was blown up as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 passengers on board, including 193 Dutch citizens.
Investigators said the rocket was sacked from the pro-Russian rebel territory in Eastern Ukraine.
An update posted online by investigators Thursday said the JIT was "convinced" that the Buk TELAR (transporter erector launcher and radar) used to down MH17 originated from the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade, a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in Russia.
Russia has provided exhaustive evidence pointing to the involvement of the Ukrainian BUK system crews in the destruction of the MH17 flight, Russian Defense Ministry said. The Russian government has long denied direct involvement in the conflict.
"It is time for Russian Federation to cease its lies and account for its role in the shoot down", the US statement went on to say.
Image Russia has always denied involvement in the downing of the jet
He also said, according to CNN, that "this raises questions such as to whether the brigade was actively involved in downing MH17".
Open-source investigators at Bellingcat came to the same conclusion as the Joint Investigative Team three years ago, but the JIT had different legal requirements and thresholds for evidence and therefore needed more time.
In 2016, investigators announced they had evidence that the BUK system involved in the incident had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine from Russian Federation and returned after the plane had been shot down.
In 2016, the Dutch-led group said it suspected around 100 people could be linked to the alleged transportation of the Buk missile system to eastern Ukraine and the missile launch. All 298 people onboard were killed.
The Russian military denied that any Russian missile complex had ever crossed the border between Russia and Ukraine, TASS news agency reported.
Chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said investigators still have a lot of work to do and were not ready to publicly identify individual suspects. If specific Russian military personnel or commanders are indicted, Russia is nearly certain to refuse their extradition.
At a news conference in the Netherlands on Thursday, the team announced the findings of its investigation, showing photos of the wrecked plane.
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