An Iranian passenger plane was forced to quickly change its altitude, causing injuries to several of its occupants after two U.S. military jets approached it mid-flight, The Guardian reported. It’s yet another chapter in the unfolding feud between two of the world’s most powerful nations.
The Mahan Air commercial airliner was flying over Syrian airspace en route from Tehran to Beirut when the incident occurred. But the U.S. military argued in a statement late Thursday evening that its F-15 jets maintained a safe distance and were merely ensuring the security of the nearby U.S. base in Al-Tanf.
“A US F-15 on a routine air mission in the vicinity of the at [al]-Tanf garrison in Syria conducted a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 metres [0.6 miles] from the airliner this evening.”
The spokesman then added that the maneuver was in accordance with all international standards and that “once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft.”
The Iranian plane was then able to safely arrive at its destination before refueling and flying back to the country’s capital city without further issue, and no life-threatening injuries were made known to the public.
A man on board the craft was quoted in the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) report as saying he hit his head on the plane’s ceiling after it dropped altitude, which caused a cut on his head, while a video from the scene showed an elderly passenger sprawled out on the cabin’s floor. It was not immediately known how many people were aboard the aircraft at the time.
Although IRIB initially reported that the aircrafts in question were Israeli, it was later confirmed that the Iranian pilot was able to make contact with the approaching jets, who identified themselves as American. Israeli security forces further cleared things up by claiming they had nothing to do with the incident, BBC reported.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi claimed that Iran would be investigating what happened and added that “necessary political and legal measures will be taken.”
Mahan Air was founded in 1991 and has been the focus of U.S. suspicions for many years. In 2011, the United States imposed sanctions on the Tehran-based company, accusing it of providing support for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
The incident comes just over two years after President Donald Trump withdrew from a nuclear agreement the two countries struck in 2015.
Former President Barrack Obama, who initially negotiated the deal with Iran, warned of the dangers presented by Trump’s move.
“Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East.”
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Iran has issued an arrest warrant for Trump along with 35 other U.S. officials after the drone-strike death of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by U.S. forces.