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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Two US fighter jets approach Iranian passenger plane over Syrian airspace, forcing Beirut landing

Aircraft Flying In The Blue Sky [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 July, 2020

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A pilot has confirmed that two US fighter jets approached an Iranian passenger plane, forcing it to land in Beirut.

Two US fighter jets approached an Iranian passenger plane over Syrian airspace, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Beirut.

The Iranian plane, which had been flying over Syrian airspace, had to change altitude quickly to avoid a collision, which injured several passengers according to Reuters.

It had been going from Tehran to Beirut when the jets appeared.

The official Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) initially reported that one Israeli jet had come near the plane.


Israel denied the jet belonged to them, and later IRIB confirmed that was the case after it quoted the pilot saying there were two jets which identified themselves as American.

The passenger plane pilot contacted the two jets and warned them to keep a safe distance, at which point the pilots of the other planes identified themselves as being from the United States, IRIB reported.

“The details of this incident are under investigation,” Iran’s official IRNA news agency cited Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying.

Iran will take the “necessary political and legal measures” once investigations are concluded, Mousavi added.

Video footage posted by the agency shows one jet from the window of a plane.

A passenger was also shown to have blood on his face.

Hospitals in Beirut are taking in injured passengers, local Beirut media reported.

Iranian state media reported that one passenger hit his head on the roof of the plane due to the change in altitude the pilot had to manoeuvre.

The video featured on IRIB also showed an elderly passenger lying down on the floor of the plane.

There was no immediate comment from the US military.

The passenger plane was from state-owned airline Mahan Air, which has in the past been accused by the US of being used to take weapons to Syria.

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