27 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders including Esmail Qaani the commanders of Quds force were on Iran’s Mahan Air flight from Tehran to Beirut that was ‘visual inspected’ by a US F-15 over Syrian on Thursday night, a source in IRGC told Avatoday.
“Esmail Qaani and some 26 other IRGC commanders were at the business class section on Mahan Air’s 1152,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
According to the source the IRGC commanders were headed to Lebanon to meet with Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah.
The source added that IRGC usually transfers weapon and its members to Syria and Lebanon using passenger planes using civilians as ‘’human shields.’’
The plane arrived back in Tehran in the early hours of Friday. The source did not mention if the IRGC commanders returned to Tehran or not.
The U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM,) which oversees American troops in the Middle East, said the F-15 aircraft was conducting a visual inspection of the Iranian aircraft when it passed near the al-Tanaf border point in Syria where U.S. forces are based.
Captain Bill Urban, the senior Central Command spokesman, said the F-15 “conducted a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) from the airliner this evening.”
“The visual inspection occurred to ensure the safety of coalition personnel at At Tanf garrison,” Urban said. “Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft.”
Iran’s Mahan Air which has been sanctioned by the US since 2011 is IRGC’s main weapon transporter to Syria and Lebanon using passengers jets.