By Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that the victims of the Ukrainian airliner shot down in Iran would still be alive if the recent escalation of tensions in the region had not happened, according to a transcript of an interview with Global News TV.
The U.S. killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in a Jan. 3 drone strike prompted Iran to launch a missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops on Jan. 8, hours before the passenger jet was shot down. All 176 aboard were killed, including 57 Canadians.
"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," Trudeau said in the interview.
Trudeau said Canada did not receive a heads up before the United States killed Soleimani, and that he "obviously" would have preferred one.
"The U.S. makes its determinations. We attempt to work as an international community on big issues. But sometimes countries take actions without informing their allies," he said.
Trudeau said that while the government was working as quickly as possible to bring the bodies home for burial, it was likely to take weeks or "perhaps even months."
Canada said on Monday that Iran had signaled that Canadian investigators would take an active role in the probe of the crash, which Iran said at the weekend had been caused by a missile it fired in a "disastrous mistake."
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Rosalba O'Brien)