US warplane fly-by of Iranian airliner risked possible ‘disaster,’ says Zarif

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Iran’s foreign minister accused the United States on Friday of risking a disaster after a US warplane’s fly-by of an Iranian civilian airliner led it to rapidly change altitude to avoid collision, injuring and panicking passengers.

“US ... harasses a scheduled civil airliner -- endangering innocent civilian passengers -- ostensibly to protect its occupation forces,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter. “These outlaws must be stopped before disaster.”

On Thursday, two US fighter jets “approached” an Iranian passenger plane over Syrian airspace forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing, and leaving a number of passengers injured, Iran’s official IRIB news agency had reported.

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The Iranian Mahan Air aircraft, which was heading from Tehran to Beirut, landed in the Lebanese capital, IRIB said.

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The pilot of the passenger plane contacted the jet pilots to warn them about keeping a safe distance and they identified themselves as American, IRIB added.

The US military's Central Command, which oversees American troops in the region, said that a single F-15 fighter jet came within visual range of the Iranian passenger aircraft but was at a safe distance.

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