Iran grounds plane chartered by US military in 'bureaucratic' incident

Plane's late departure from Afghanistan caused confusion for air traffic controllers in Iran

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The Independent Online

Iranian officials have forced a plane carrying 100 Americans from Afghanistan to Dubai to land after they questioned its presence in their airspace.

The military-chartered aircraft landed in the port city of Bandar Abbas, south of the country, after being warned it would be intercepted if they did not, US officials claimed.

They said the pilot was first ordered to return to Afghanistan but did not have the fuel to make the journey so was ordered to land.

The incident, first reported by the Washington Post, has been described as nothing more than a “bureaucratic issue” by the US State Department.

The plane, operated by FlyDubai, which regularly pass over Iran, has since departed and landed at its original destination.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to the newspaper, an official from the region said the confusion occurred when the chartered flight left Bagram air base in Afghanistan several hours late.

When entering Iranian airspace, the official said, air traffic controllers lacked the updated flight plans that would have explained its presence.

An initial report about the incident allegedly said Iranian fighter jets were scrambled, though the State Department later denied any military involvement from Iran.

The Iranian government has yet to comment on the matter.

Bandar Abbas, on the strategic Strait of Hormuz, is the location of Iran’s main naval base and its civilian airport is also used by the Iranian air force.

In 1988, during the Iran-Iraq War, a missile mistakenly fired from the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian commercial airliner that had taken off from Bandar Abbas for Dubai, killing all 290 people aboard.

The United States agreed to pay $61.8 million in compensation to victims’ families in a settlement reached eight years later.