A US F-15 jet came close to a commercial Iranian passenger plane in Syrian airspace, which forced the pilot to make an emergency landing, according to an American official Thursday.
The jet “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,” Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command said in a statement.
A number of passengers were injured after the pilot abruptly lowered altitude and moved swiftly to make an emergency landing in Beirut, according to multiple reports.
The jet was “on a routine air mission in the vicinity of the CJTF-OIR At Tanf garrison in Syria” and the inspection was to “ensure the safety of coalition personnel at At Tanf garrison,” said Urban.
“Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft,” he said. “The professional intercept was conducted in accordance with international standards.”
Iranian media reported two Israeli jets intercepted the plane bound for Beirut from Tehran and the plane was “dangerously approached” by the jets.
Videos of the Iranian plane descending sharply after encountering the two fighters were circulated widely on social media.
The US designated Iranian airline Mahan Air in 2011, accusing the company of “ferrying weapons and terrorists around the world” for Iran.
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