Tehran protested Friday to the United Nations for the “flagrant violation” by the US of international law after two fighter jets sparked a panic and caused injuries on an Iranian jetliner, according to reports.
Iranian state media reported that two fighter jets came within 328 feet of Mahan Air Flight 1152, an Airbus A310 en route from Tehran to Beirut whose pilot dove to avoid a collision over Syria.
The sharp maneuver caused slight injuries among some of the passengers, including one who was captured on video with a bloody facial injury and another who was seen lying down in the cabin.
The flight landed safely in Beirut later.
US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the Central Command, said an F-15 “conducted a standard visual inspection” of the Iranian plane “at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) from the airliner.”
He said the inspection was meant to ensure the safety of US coalition troops in al-Tanf in Syria, adding that once the aircraft was identified as a passenger plane, “the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft.”
At that altitude, planes must maintain a distance of at least (2,000 feet) to ensure they don’t hit each other, though planes traveling that close can encounter wake turbulence.
On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called he incident an act of “lawlessness upon lawlessness.”
“US illegally occupies territory of another State and then harasses a scheduled civil airliner—endangering innocent civilian passengers—ostensibly to protect its occupation forces,” he said in a tweet.
Transportation Minister Mohammad Eslami called the flyby a “terrorist act” and said Tehran would complain to the International Civil Aviation Organization.
“We expect this to lead to condemnation of the terrorist act by the US government,” Eslami said.
The ICAO said Friday it had not yet received a complaint from Tehran.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said protests were filed with the International Air Transport Association and the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which handles US interests in the country since ties were cut after the 1979 Islamic revolution, Agence France-Presse reported.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been informed of the incident, which is under investigation, the Washington Post reported.
Israel and the US have accused Mahan Air of carrying weapons for Iranian-linked guerrillas in Syria and elsewhere, according to Reuters.
In 2011, Washington imposed sanctions on the airline, saying it provided financial and other support to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
With Post wires
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