Several days ago, there were news reports that American F-15 Strike Eagle fighter aircraft flew close by an Iranian airliner. Videos from inside the Iranian plane also surfaced. The Iranian pilot sharply dropped the plane’s altitude, to reportedly avoid a collision with the F-15, causing a panic among the passengers, including a few minor injuries. One of the passengers, a journalist for Iran’s IRIB News, sent a video of the incident.

The Iranian state-run media claimed initially that fighter that made an “aggressive” close pass on the Iranian airliner was Israeli; they later changed the story identifying the plane as American. 

The Iranian airliner was identified as Flight 1152 of Mahan Air flying a routine route from Tehran to Beirut. Contrary to what posted on Twitter by a reporter for the BBC, the Iranian jet did not make an emergency landing in Beirut — it was the scheduled destination. When the Mahan Air flight returned to Iran it flew a different route: North of Damascus, over the Syrian desert, and then near but not over Tanf to Iraqi airspace, covering the same distance back to Tehran. 

The pilot of the Iranian jet clearly stated that the F-15 pilot identified himself as an American.

The Americans said that they maintained a distance of 1,000 meters, which is a recognized safe distance. The Iranians claimed that the F-15 came within 100 meters and this caused the pilot to sharply decrease his altitude to avoid a collision. 

The website showed the data from the airliner and the pilot climbed from 34,000 feet to 34,600 feet shortly before the time of the incident, then dropped back down to 34,000 feet immediately after.

“[The] U.S. illegally occupies territory of another State and then harasses a scheduled civil airliner — endangering innocent civilian passengers — ostensibly to protect its occupation forces,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posted on Twitter.

Mahan Air routinely flies the Tehran to Beirut route that passes close to the 55-km deconfliction no-fly zone near the U.S. Special Forces base at al-Tanf in eastern Syria. Yet this particular flight was different. This flight was flying directly over the base. So, the U.S. scrambled up two F-15s to conduct, what the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) called a “standard visual inspection.”