US warplanes harassed an Iranian passenger plane approaching the Beirut airport two times in six minutes during the Thursday terrorist incident, informed sources tell Press TV.
According to the sources, the American fighter jets’ first harassment occurred when the Iranian airliner was flying over Syria’s strategic al-Tanf region, near Syria’s border with Jordan and Iraq.
“The second instance of harassment took place over Syrian-Lebanese border,” the sources added.
They noted that the US warplanes, which harassed the Iranian civilian aircraft on Thursday night took off from al-Azraq air base in Jordan, adding that al-Azraq air base is presumably the same base from which a US drone took off to assassinate the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Quds Force, Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and his companions outside the Baghdad International Airport in early January.
According to the informed sources, the pilot of the airliner was forced to drop altitude to avoid collision with US warplanes over the Syria-Lebanon border.
On Thursday night, US warplanes operating illegally in Syria, conducted some “dangerous” maneuvering close to the Mahan Air flight in an act of air piracy.
The Mahan Air Flight 1152 had taken off from Tehran and was en route to the Lebanese capital when the incident happened over Syria’s al-Tanf region.
The Nournews agency on Friday cited an unnamed source familiar with the matter that contrary to the remarks made by CENTCOM’s spokesman, Bill Urban, the US jets “intercepted the Iranian plane after violating Lebanon’s airspace” and were not on “a routine air mission” when they flew close to the Mahan Air plane.
The source said the F-15s harassed the Iranian plane in Lebanon’s sky when it was dropping its altitude to approach the Beirut airport.
CENTCOM claimed that a single F-15 had made a “visual inspection” of the Iranian airliner “in accordance with international standards … to ensure the safety of coalition personnel” at the military base in al-Tanf.
It added that the F-15 conducted “a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters.”
In a post on his official Twitter account on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced the United States for harassing a scheduled Iranian civil airliner over Syria and endangering the lives of civilians, saying the American government must be reined in to prevent more disasters.
“US illegally occupies territory of another State and then harasses a scheduled civil airliner—endangering innocent civilian passengers ostensibly to protect its occupation forces,” the top Iranian diplomat said.
Earlier on Sunday, Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon denounced the harassment of the Iranian passenger plane, saying it was a “blatant example of terrorist acts by the US” in the region.
Mohammad-Jalal Firouznia made the remarks at Beirut’s Al Rasoul Al Aazam Hospital, where he visited passengers injured on the Iranian airliner after dangerous maneuvering by US fighter jets over the Syrian airspace forced the plane to quickly change altitude in order to avoid a collision.
“The move by the American fighter jets is a blatant example of terrorist and criminal acts committed by Washington in the region,” he said, adding, “Iran will take all necessary juridical and legal action to condemn the actions of US fighter jets, and will pursue the issue at the United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Organization and related courts, especially with regard to passengers and those injured.”