Iranian passenger planes, intercepted by US fighter jets, land back in Tehran

Several passengers on an Iranian airline were injured over Syria on Thursday after the pilot changed altitude to avoid colliding with a US fighter jet, according to Iranian media, but the US Army said its F-15 was at a safe distance. The Iranian aircraft, belonging to Mahan Air, was on its way from Tehran to Beirut when the pilot performed a security manoeuvre, an incident that the Iranian Foreign Ministry said would be investigated.

The U.S. Army Central Command, which governs U.S. troops in the area, said the F-15 aircraft was performing a visual inspection of the Iranian aircraft as it flew past the Tanf garrison in Syria, where U.S. forces were present. Captain Bill Urban, senior spokesperson for the Central Command, said the F-15 “has performed a routine visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airline at a secure distance of approximately 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) from the airliner this evening.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Abbas Mousavi, said the appropriate legal and political steps will be taken, according to the website of the Ministry. Israel and the United States have long accused Mahan Air of ferrying arms to Iranian-linked guerrillas in Syria and elsewhere. The United States imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011, saying it provided financial and other support to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.