Iranian civilian plane involved in near crash with suspected US warplanes over Syria-World News, Firstpost



The meeting with Mahan Airlines, if confirmed with US warplanes, could amplify tensions between Iran and the United States, which continues a bitter campaign of sanctions and other actions against Iran.

Beirut: An Iranian airliner en route from Iran to Beirut swerved and fell sharply to prevent two fighter jets from flying nearby, injuring several passengers before landing in Beirut, TV channels reported Thursday evening. Iranian and Lebanese.

Videos released by Iranian and pro-Iranian Lebanese media, which said the footage was taken by passengers, showed one of the fighter jets flying alongside the passenger plane, operated by Mahan Air, a private Iranian airline.

Passengers then screamed as sudden turbulence gripped the plane. In the aftermath, a video showed a passenger with a bloodied face and head, as well as a man lying, apparently unconscious, while someone looked after him. Oxygen masks hung above.

TV stations initially described the fighter jets as Israeli, but Iranian state television, citing an interview with the pilot of the plane, said the planes were American. An Israeli official has denied any involvement in the near miss, which took place in Syrian airspace. There was no immediate comment from US military officials.

A person in Syria who was briefed by Iranian and Hezbollah officials said warplanes intercepted the passenger plane over Al-Tanf, the site of a small US military base in the south from Syria. The person, who is close to the alliance between Iran, Hezbollah and Syria and who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the fighter jets would belong to the US-led international coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria.

The US base at Al-Tanf, which sits near the Syrian border with Jordan and Iraq, is strategically located to prevent Iran from controlling a land route through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon.

The US-led coalition continues to conduct combat air patrols over northeastern Syria to support approximately 500 US troops who are carrying out missions with Syrian Kurdish allies on the ground to counter pockets of combatants from The Islamic State.

US fighter jets also conduct daily patrols near Al-Tanf base in southern Syria where 150-200 US troops train Syrian fighters against the Islamic State known as Maghawir al Thawra. .

In May 2017, US fighter jets attacked a pro-Syrian government convoy that ignored warnings and violated a restricted area around the base. In recent months, U.S.-backed Syrian forces have clashed with roving bands of suspected ISIS fighters near the base.

Iran is already on edge after a series of mysterious explosions and violent attacks on its civilian and military infrastructure, including at a nuclear fuel enrichment complex in early July.

The meeting with Mahan Airlines, if confirmed with US warplanes, could amplify tensions between Iran and the United States, which continues a bitter campaign of sanctions and other actions against Iran.

Lebanese media said an elderly passenger was taken to a hospital affiliated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia and Iranian-backed political party. Lebanese civil aviation authorities said the plane was carrying 150 passengers, some of whom sustained minor injuries.

Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said Iran has contacted the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which protects American interests in Iran, to warn that the United States will be held responsible if anything arrived at the Mahan Air flight, which later left Beirut empty. to return to Iran.

Mousavi said the Iranian mission to the United Nations also conveyed this message to UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“We are investigating the details of this incident, and once the information is complete, we will take the necessary legal and political action,” Mousavi said.

A number of analysts have said the Mahan Air episode appears to fit a pattern of recent efforts to piss off and destabilize Iran.

“The timing of this incident is telling,” said Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver. “This is taking place against the backdrop of the recent bombings in Iran which are largely attributed to Israel with the blessing of the United States. “

However, it remained far from clear whether the warplane’s action was deliberate.

While Iran and the United States have many long-standing grievances, for Iran one of the most powerful remains the 1988 downing of an Iranian airliner by the Vincennes, an American warship that patrolled the Persian Gulf.

The plane, Iran Air Flight 655, was carrying 290 people. The United States later called it a “tragic and regrettable accident” and then paid millions to settle a lawsuit that Iran filed in the International Court of Justice.

Vivian Yee and Farnaz Fassihi circa 2020 The New York Times Company



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