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U.S. Intelligence officials: Malaysian plane was brought down by a missile

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KIEV, UKRAINE -

Today, international investigators are hoping to begin their search for the cause of the crash of a passenger jet in war-torn eastern Ukraine.

U.S. intelligence officials say Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 - a Boeing 777 carrying two-hundred-ninety five people was brought down by a missile.

The crash site is said to cover nearly ten miles, and it's in disputed territory controlled by Pro-Russian separatists, who say they had nothing to do with the crash.

The United States has volunteered the services of the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI.

Intelligence officials tell NBC News the deadly missile was tracked from launch to impact, but proving who fired it may not be easy.

The sprawling crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine is a crime scene, and it's controlled by the very people many experts believe to be the prime suspects - Pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists.

But today, they're promising access to international investigators, "and it's a real challenge for anyone, but particularly in a country in a war-torn area like this," said Former NTSB Chairman, Deborah Hersman.

President Obama called Ukraine's President to offer his condolences and American help.

U.S. intelligence officials believe they already know the cause of the crash that claimed nearly three hundred souls.

An American satellite reportedly picked up the launch of a surface-to-air missile. "Most likely it was the separatists; don't forget, they just shot down a Ukrainian plane," said Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb.

And if it the separatists were involved, "I think there is going to be hell to pay and there should be," declared Senator John McCain, (R) Arizona.

Russia was just hit with a new round of sanctions over Ukraine, but this crash threatens to push the crisis to a new level.

At a cabinet meeting this morning, Putin shifted the blame to Ukraine. "This tragedy would not have occurred," Putin said, "if there was peace in that land."

And on that note, the White House is calling on the Russian Government to support a cease-fire.

Plane crash victims:

There's no word on whether there were any Americans on the Malaysia Airlines plane.

The plane that was headed to the capital of Malaysia had originated in Amsterdam, and most of the passengers were from the Netherlands.

There were 173 Dutch on board, 44 were Malaysian, including 15 crew and two infants, and 28 were Australian.

There were eight other known nationalities, and the nationalities of 18 people are unconfirmed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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