U.S. warplanes harass Iranian airliner, put lives in danger

July 24, 2020 - 12:15

TEHRAN– Two U.S. warplanes have conducted dangerous and aggressive maneuvering closed to an Iranian airliner, putting lives of tens of civilian passengers on board in danger.

The incident took place on Thursday involving two warplanes and Mahan Air’s Flight 1152 that had taken off from Tehran and was en route to the Lebanese capital, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) News, the Iranian national broadcaster’s news outlet, reported, citing Syria’s civil aviation authority.

The harassment didn’t stop the plane and it continued the path towards Beirut and landed safely in the Lebanese capital. 

The IRIB News described the U.S. aircraft’s maneuvering as a “provocative and dangerous” action that forced the Iranian passenger plane’s pilot to precipitously lower the altitude which has led to some injuries among several passengers.

Several passengers said their heads hit hard against the ceiling after the plane had to swoop lower. Footage, meanwhile, showed blood running from the top of the head of one and several others, who had suffered scars, while one passenger was seen lying down apparently unconscious on the airplane’s floor. “It was a fighter plane. It was flying precisely side by side this plane,” one said. Another showed the arm of his seat that had been broken off after the airliner took the tumble.

In response, the US Central Command terrorist organization said a single F-15 had made a “visual inspection” of the Iranian airliner “in accordance with international standards... to ensure the safety of coalition personnel” at the military base in al-Tanf.

The command claimed that the US F-15 was on a “routine air mission” in Syria and conducted “a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters”.

Earlier reports had specified the aggressive aircraft as Israeli. Back in 2018, Syrian air defenses mistakenly downed a Russian aircraft after Israeli fighter jets hid themselves behind it to use it as their cover. The crash led to the death of 15 Russian servicemen.

Meanwhile, in a statement early on Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that the incident is “under investigation”. “Due political and legal measures will be taken upon completion of the information at hand.”

He, however, said Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi had asserted to the world body’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the Islamic Republic would be holding the United States “responsible” should anything happen to the Iranian airliner on its way back home.

Mousavi said the warning message has also been forwarded to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran that hosts the US’s interests section.

The plane has safely returned and landed at Imam Khomeini International Airport at around 3 AM on Friday, Tehran’s local time.

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