On July 23rd, an Iranian civil airplane from Mahan Air was flying to Beirut, Lebanon, when it was intercepted by two US fighter jets, according to Iranian state outlet IRNA.
— IRNA News Agency (@IrnaEnglish) July 24, 2020
The pilot of the Iranian plane claimed when he contacted the pilots of the fighter jets to ask them to keep distance, they had said that they were American.
Although the Iranian plane finally landed in Beirut Airport, some of its passengers were immediately taken to hospital.
Lebanese officials said the Iranian aircraft landed in Beirut.
“All the passengers are well, but some suffered from minor wounds,” Beirut airport chief Fadi al-Hassan told Lebanese broadcaster New Television. “Mot suffered from shock and fear.”
Syrian state outlet SANA reported that the fighter jets were American and had took off from an air base in Syria.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that investigations are underway about the incident.
Mousavi said that after completing information about the incident, Iran will take the necessary political and legal measures in this regard.
He also said that Iran’s Permanent ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-e Ravanchi has talked with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He stressed that if the incident repeats itself on the way back home, the US would be held responsible.
Initially, Turkish state outlet Anadolu Agency reported that the passenger plane had been intercepted by Israeli fighter jets above Syria.
PressTV also reported that Israeli fighter jets were involved.
— Press TV (@PressTV) July 23, 2020
The plane was flying close to Syria’s border with Lebanon and was “dangerously approached” by the fighter planes, forcing the pilot to descend sharply to avoid a crash, reports said.
Granular data from 16:10 to 16:20 UTC from IRM1152. A climb from 34,000 to 34,600 feet between 16:13:53 and 16:14:32, then descent back to 34,000 feet by 16:15:29. pic.twitter.com/dQSpPvB4vV
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) July 23, 2020
Following the incident, US Central Command admitted that it didn’t involve Israeli fighter jets, but US ones.
A U.S. F-15 on a routine air mission in the vicinity of the CJTF-OIR At Tanf garrison in Syria 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.https://t.co/QXguLMOAGI
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) July 24, 2020
The F-15 “conducted a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) from the airliner this evening,” said Captain Bill Urban, a senior spokesman for US Central Command.
“The professional intercept was conducted in accordance with international standards,” Urban added.
US officials said the F-15 had maintained about 1,000 meters distance between the aircraft.
“The visual inspection occurred to ensure the safety of coalition personnel at At Tanf garrison,” Urban said, referring to a strategic US ground presence in Syria. “Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft.”
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