US fighter jets buzz Iranian passenger plane over Syria, say pilots

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Mahan Air flight has to make abrupt change of altitude, pilots told state media

July 24, 2020

July 24, 2020

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An Iranian passenger jet pilot claimed he had to change altitude quickly on Thursday to avoid US fighter jets over Syria, the official Irib news outlet claimed.

The pilot of the claimed there were two jets that identified themselves as American.

He said he contacted the jet pilots to warn them to keep a safe distance, Irib reported.

The Iranian plane, belonging to the US sanctioned Mahan Air, was heading from Tehran to Beirut and landed safely, an airport source told Reuters.

The news agency said some passengers had been injured in the incident.

Neither the Israeli nor US militaries commented on the incident.

The incident is being investigated and Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said legal and political action would be taken, the ministry said.

A message has been passed to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents US interests in Iran, that if any incident occurs with the aircraft on its return Tehran will hold the US responsible, Mr Mousavi said.

Israel and the US have long accused Mahan Air of ferrying weapons for Iranian-linked guerrillas in Syria and elsewhere.

The US imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011, saying it provided financial and other support to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which increased tension between the two countries.

All of the passengers left the plane, some with minor injuries, the head of the Beirut airport told Reuters.

The plane left Beirut to return to Tehran on Thursday evening, the airport head said.

Updated: July 24, 2020 02:27 AM

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