Iran says passenger aircraft ‘harassed’ over Syria by US jet

Tehran, July 24 

An Iranian passenger aircraft flying from Tehran to Beirut on Thursday was “harassed” by fighter jets, Iranian state TV stated, saying the aircraft managed to securely land within the Lebanese capital.

A US official later instructed The Associated Press that an American fighter jet did move by the Iranian jet, however at a protected distance.

A Lebanese airport official stated the flight, Mahan Air Flight 1152, landed usually in Beirut on Thursday night.

The official, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not approved to speak to journalists, had no additional particulars.

There had been conflicting experiences as to what had occurred, as Iran initially blamed Israel for the incident.

Syrian state media quoted unidentified civil aviation officers in Damascus as saying two jets, suspected of belonging to the US-led coalition, “intercepted” an Iranian passenger aircraft over al-Tanf, in southwestern Syria.

US troops preventing Islamic State militants have established a presence within the al-Tanf space since 2016, which is close to Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan.

The US has declared it a so-called de-conflicted zone. Beyond it, Syrian forces and their Iranian allies function, which makes it a remaining flashpoint within the area.

The experiences stated the interception compelled the pilot to sharply change altitude, flying low and inflicting slight accidents amongst a number of the passengers.

According to the Iranian TV report, the fighter jets got here inside a distance of 100 meters (328 toes) of the Iranian Airbus A310.

The pilot shortly took the plane to a decrease altitude to keep away from a collision with the jets, the report stated. US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a Central Command spokesman, later instructed the AP {that a} US F-15 fighter jet “conducted a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) from the airliner this evening.” “The visual inspection occurred to ensure the safety of coalition personnel at al-Tanf garrison,” Urban stated.

“Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft.” Aircraft at that altitude are to keep up a distance of a minimum of 600 metres (2,000 toes) to make sure they do not hit one another, although planes travelling that shut collectively can encounter wake turbulence.

Data from the flight recorded by web site confirmed the airliner climbed from 34,000 toes to 34,600 toes in underneath two minutes across the time of the incident, then dropped again all the way down to 34,000 toes inside a minute after.

The plane landed quickly after this however three passengers sustained accidents and had been taken to hospital, the TV report stated, citing what it described as knowledgeable however unnamed sources on the Beirut airport.

The report additionally stated a number of the cabin crew had been injured however didn’t elaborate.

Iranian state TV quoted the pilot of the Iranian aircraft as saying the fighter jets’ pilots had recognized themselves as American over radio communication.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry stated that following the incident, a protest observe was despatched to the Swiss Embassy, which represents America’s pursuits in Iran, warning that if any accident occurs on the aircraft’s return flight to Tehran, will probably be the duty of the United States.

The ministry’s spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, stated Iran is investigating the incident.

The identical observe was additionally delivered to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres by Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-e Ravanchi.

Mahan Air is a privately owned airline primarily based in Tehran that flies throughout the Mideast.

In 2011, the US Treasury sanctioned the airline for allegedly “providing financial, material and technological support” to Iran’s Quds Force, the expeditionary arm of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

The Treasury additionally alleged Mahan Air had carried weapons, items and personnel for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

All this comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear cope with world powers over two years in the past.

In the time since, a collection of escalating incidents have occurred throughout the Mideast between the 2 nations, together with the US killed an Iranian basic in a drone strike and Tehran launching ballistic missiles concentrating on American forces in Iraq. AP

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