A US F-15 jet came close to a commercial Iranian passenger plane over the Syrian airspace, which forced the pilot to make an emergency landing, according to reports.
Iranian media reporting a Mahan air passenger place was approached by fighter jets over Syria. Pilot lowered altitude, a number of passengers were reportedly injured. pic.twitter.com/fRQ7L1o6yZ
— AssedBaig (@AssedBaig) July 23, 2020
The jet “conducted a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters from the airliner this evening,” Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command said in a statement.
A number of passengers were injured after the pilot abruptly lowered altitude and moved swiftly to make an emergency landing in Beirut, according to multiple reports.
The jet was “on a routine air mission in the vicinity of the CJTF-OIR At Tanf garrison in Syria” and the inspection was to “ensure the safety of coalition personnel at At Tanf garrison,” said Urban.
“Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft,” he said. “The professional intercept was conducted in accordance with international standards.”
Iranian media reported two Israeli jets intercepted the plane bound for Beirut from Tehran and the plane was “dangerously approached” by the jets.
Videos of the Iranian plane descending sharply after encountering the two fighters were circulated widely on social media. The US designated Iranian airline Mahan Air in 2011, accusing the company of “ferrying weapons and terrorists around the world” for Iran.
Earlier, Iran said that it would take “necessary political and legal measures” after an investigation is concluded into an incident involving a Mahan Air plane in Syria. Foreign ministry spokesman Sayed Abbas Mousavi said the investigation was underway to understand what happened to the Beirut-bound plane that took off from Tehran late Thursday.
Breaking / Iran state TV reports an Istaeli jet has threatened Mahan passenger plane on it's way to Syria pic.twitter.com/GAgYefXDU7
— Rohollah Faghihi (@FaghihiRohollah) July 23, 2020
Mousavi said Tehran’s Ambassador to the UN Takht Ravanchi spoke to UN chief Antonio Guterres and warned the US will bear responsibility if anything happened to the Iranian plane on its way back to Tehran.
The Mahan Air flight bound for Beirut was allegedly intercepted by two fighter planes in Syrian air space. The flight, which took off from Tehran and was flying close to Syria’s border with Lebanon, was “dangerously approached” by two fighter planes, forcing the pilot to descend sharply to avoid a crash, reports said.
A number of passengers were injured after the pilot abruptly lowered altitude and moved swiftly to make an emergency landing in Beirut. An Iranian journalist on board said the fighter jets were 100 to 200 meters (300 to 600 feet) from the plane.
Videos of the Iranian plane descending sharply in the night sky after the encounter were circulated widely on social media. Iranian media initially speculated the jets belonged to Israel but reports now suggest they were US Air Force F-15 fighters.
By Servet Gunerigok