US says recordings of Ukraine rebels admitting MH17 downing 'authentic'

AFP
A piece of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in a field near the village of Grabove on July 20, 2014
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A piece of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in a field near the village of Grabove on July 20, 2014 (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

Kiev (AFP) - Alleged intercepted phone conversations released by Ukraine’s security service of pro-Russian rebels discussing how they shot down Malaysian airliner MH17 are genuine, the US embassy in Kiev said Sunday.

Ukraine's SBU security agency on Thursday released recordings of what it claimed were phone talks involving rebels and a Russian military intelligence officer admitting that they had hit the passenger jet after mistaking it for a military aircraft.

The recordings were presented as key evidence to back up Kiev's claims that rebels -- supported by Russia -- downed the jet while the separatists accused Ukraine's army of being responsible.

"Audio data provided to the press by the Ukrainian security service was evaluated by Intelligence Community analysts who confirmed these were authentic conversations between known separatist leaders," the US embassy in Ukraine said in a statement.

In one of the recordings a rebel commander nicknamed the "Major" says rebels shot down the plane and tells a disbelieving comrade that the jet is "100 percent a civilian aircraft."

On Sunday Ukraine's security agency released a fresh batch of alleged leaked conversations of rebels organising to hide the flight's black boxes from international monitors at the crash site.

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