VIDEO: Saudi fighter jets intercept Iranian cargo plane
A new video, recorded with a mobile phone by the pilot of an Iranian cargo plane, according to Iran’s Press TV, has been released showing Saudi Arabian fighter jets trying to force the Yemen-bound plane to turn around.
The RSAF F-15s intercepted the Mahan Air Airbus 310 over Oman while en-route to Yemen’s capital Sana’a. Press TV alleges that the civilian aircraft was delivering humanitarian aid to the country, but Saudi Arabia claims it was carrying weapons to support Houthi rebels.
Iran says the cargo airliner had the required diplomatic clearances to fly to Yemen via Oman’s airspace, but was intercepted and escorted by several armed Saudi F-15s.
The RSAF F-15Cs reportedly told the pilots of the Airbus 310 that it could not land at Sana’a International Airport and ordered the pilots to land at another airport “belonging to Saudi Arabia.”
The Iranian pilots ignored the warnings, however, and continued to Sana’a but were forced to turn back as the airport was hit by a Saudi air strike which damaged the runway and made it unserviceable.
Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, told Reuters that the airport was bombed after the Iranian aircraft refused to coordinate with the coalition and the pilot ignored orders to turn back.
The incident comes days after another Iranian aircraft, which Tehran also claims was carrying aid and medicine was prevented from entering Yemeni airspace by RSAF jets in combat air patrol.
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham has slammed the Saudi bombing of the airport as inhumane and spiteful.
Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes on targets in Yemen in late March to counter the Houthi offensive on Aden, the provisional capital of the internationally recognized Yemeni government.