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Iran labels US military jet incident with passenger plane an 'act of terrorism'

US disputes claim that its fighter jet acted dangerously during incident over Syria that left Iranian airliner passengers injured

Iran lashed out at Washington on Friday after a US fighter jet flew close to an Iranian civilian airliner, labelling the incident an act of terrorism. 

Video posted online by Iranian state TV showed passengers screaming inside the airliner, with one showing the camera his bloodied face mask. 

Iranian media outlets reported that several passengers were injured in the incident, which took place over Syria. 

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The US military’s Central Command, which oversees American troops in the region, disputed Iran's claim that it had acted dangerously, and said its F-15 military jet flew next to the airliner at a safe distance.

It said an F-15 aircraft was conducting a visual inspection of the Iranian plane when it passed near the Tanf garrison in Syria, home to US forces.

Mohammed Eslami, the Iranian minister for roads and urban development, told the semi-official ISNA news agency that Iran had lodged a formal complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organisation over the incident, describing it as a "terrorist act, one of aggression".

"The explanations provided so far [by the US military] are unjustified and unconvincing," Laya Joneydi, vice president for legal affairs, was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

"The harassment of a passenger plane on the territory of a third country is a clear violation of aviation security and freedom of civilian aircraft."

'These outlaws must be stopped before disaster'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States of risking a disaster.

"U.S. ... harasses a scheduled civil airliner - endangering innocent civilian passengers - ostensibly to protect its occupation forces," he said on Twitter. "These outlaws must be stopped before disaster."

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The Mahan Air passenger plane was heading from Tehran to Beirut at the time of the encounter. 

Video footage showed oxygen masks that had fallen from the overhead roof panels. A jet can be seen through a seat window flying some distance away in a clear blue sky.

"I saw a black plane approaching us, and then we lost our balance," one unidentified injured passenger told state TV.

"It was a jet. Almost so near our plane."

In the footage, one of the passengers was seen lying on the floor by the toilets, while another passenger put a cushion under his head as cabin crew tended to others.