On 23 July, a Mahan Air Airbus A310-304 (registered EP-MNF) operated flight W51152 between Tehran, Iran and Beirut, Lebanon. While flying above Syria, however, the aircraft was intercepted by a U.S. Air Force F-15. The United States issued a statement after footage that appeared online show passengers loudly screaming while the aircraft is making a sudden change of direction.
According to website IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting), the pilots narrowly avoided a collision with an Israeli fighter jet, injuring several passengers on board.
After the Iranian state television accused Israel of being behind the close encounter, the US Central Command, which oversees US operations in the Middle East, said that “an F-15 on a routine air mission… conducted a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters from the airliner. Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft,” Centcom said in a statement.
Data from flightradar24.com indicate that the aircraft briefly left its flight level of 34,000 feet. The aircraft, however, continued its journey to Beirut and subsequently returned to Tehran.
The U.S. administration is closely following Mahan Air, claiming that the airline is used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for military purposes.
Following footage appeared on social media:
An Israeli fighter jet has apparently intercepted a Mahan Air flight from Iran to Beirut as it flew over Syria, forcing it to make an emergency landing in the country. Other videos from the plane show injuries to passengers. pic.twitter.com/8cdvYNPtQ4
— Séamus Malekafzali (@Seamus_Malek) July 23, 2020
Terror in the air : US military aircraft (F-15) terrorised Iranian Mahan Air flight 1152 from Tehran to Beirut over Syrian airspace. The approaching jets forced it to rapidly change course and altitude, resulting in several injuries among the passengers, the company said. pic.twitter.com/7NI9a29Q0x
— Jamil Raza (@mj__raza) July 24, 2020