Report: Iranian passenger plane had to change course as U.S. fighter planes approach

Report: Iranian passenger plane had to change course as U.S. fighter planes approach
The official IRNA news agency reported that two American fighter planes approached an Iranian passenger plane over Syrian airspace, causing the pilot to change rapidly to avoid collision and injuring several passengers.

The agency initially said that one Israeli aircraft approached the plane, but later quoted the pilot as saying that there were two planes known to be American.

In response, the US Central Command said that one F-15 aircraft had visually inspected an Iranian plane "in accordance with international standards" to ensure the safety of coalition personnel at the military base in Al-Tanf.

IRIB stated that the passenger plane pilot contacted the jet pilots to warn them to keep a safe distance and identified themselves as Americans. A video posted by the agency showed one plane from the plane's window and comments from a passenger with blood on his face.

The US Central Command said the US F-15 was on a routine mission in Syria and conducted a "standard visual inspection of a Mahan passenger plane at a safe distance of about 1,000 meters."

“Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened the distance from the aircraft.”

A source at the airport told Reuters that the Iranian Mahan Air was en route from Tehran to Beirut and landed safely in Beirut.

An Israeli army spokesman had no immediate comment, and there was no immediate comment from the US military.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry's website said the incident was under investigation, and Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that the necessary legal and political measures would be taken.

Israel and the United States have long accused Mahan Air of transferring weapons to Iranian-linked fighters in Syria and elsewhere.

The United States imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011, saying it provided financial and other support to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated since 2018, when President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions that harmed the Iranian economy.

A passenger in the IRIB report described how his head collided with the plane's surface while changing altitude, and a video showed an elderly passenger lying on the floor.

The Beirut airport chief told Reuters that all the passengers left the plane and some were lightly wounded.

The Fars News Agency reported that the plane returned to Tehran in the early hours of Friday morning.

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