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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 18th, 2014
05:27 PM ET

Flight 17: 'Working theory' is Russians supplied the missile system used, says sr. defense official

(CNN) – In the administration's strongest words yet on the downing of the jet, which left 298 people dead, President Barack Obama said Friday rebel fighters couldn't have operated the surface-to-air missile believed responsible for the shoot down "without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated training, and that is coming from Russia."

He and other U.S. officials stopped short of publicly placing the responsibility on Russia, which has denied any involvement in the destruction of the jetliner, whose debris lay strewn Friday across the eastern Ukraine farm field where it fell.

But a senior defense official told CNN that the "working theory" among U.S. intelligence analysts is that the Russian military supplied the Buk missile system to rebel fighters inside Ukraine.

U.S. officials believe the plane was "likely downed by a surface-to-air missile ... operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine," the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council.

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