A commercial flight from Tehran to Beirut was disturbed mid-flight as a fighter jet passed by it on Thursday.
The incident created conflicting reports with inconsistent details as to what went on when the Mahan Air Flight 1152 crossed the Syrian airspace toward Lebanon.
Some of the flight’s passengers, some of whom were Lebanese, were injured as the pilot was forced to suddenly shift to a low altitude as a result of the encounter.
According to Iranian TV reports, the encounter took place within a distance of 100 meters.
A Lebanese airport official later said that the plane landed in Beirut without any further incident on Thursday evening.
The injured passengers sustained minor bruises and their injuries “did not necessitate calling the Red Cross to take them to the hospital,” according to Fadi Al-Hassan, Director-General of Civil Aviation at Rafik Hariri International Airport.
The only exception was an elderly citizen who suffers from blood pressure problems. He was accordingly admitted to a nearby hospital.
Initially, Iran blamed Israel for intercepting the flight with two of its fighter jets and some media reports subsequently claimed that the jets were Israeli.
However, this claim was dismissed when the United States Central Command later declared that a US F-15 jet had conducted “a standard visual inspection” of the passenger plane on Thursday.
It explained that the inspection took place “at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters” from the airliner and aimed to ensure “the safety of coalition personnel at Al-Tanf garrison.”
Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, “the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft,” the Central Command said.
Notably, Iranian state TV quoted the commercial flight’s pilot as saying that the fighter jets’ pilots had identified themselves as American over radio communication, indicating the presence of more than one fighter.
In the aftermath of the incident, Iran filed a complaint to the United Nations through the Swiss Embassy.
The country protested the US’ “harassment” of the commercial flight, and announced that it is conducting an investigation to “take the necessary measures, politically and legally.”