The Iranian Air Defence Command announced on Monday December 8 that it arrested 108 NATO military personnel in Bandar Abbas as they tried to pass through Iranian airspace.
A report on Tasnim indicates that Amir Farzad Esmaili said in a ceremony in Mashhad that the plane carrying these detainees was forced to land by Iranian jets.
Last September, the U.S. government confirmed that a UAE airplane hired by International Coalition forces led by the U.S. government in Afghanistan had been diverted from its course and landed in Bandar Abbas, then later resumed its flight to Dubai.
At the time, the Washington Post had denied the landing was forced, saying the pilot landed the plane on purpose due to a lack of fuel. Later, U.S. authorities claimed the landing was not forced and was merely the result of administrative issues.
Today’s statement about the arrest of 108 NATO military personnel has not yet been confirmed by U.S. authorities.
Commander Esmaili said today: “A few months ago, our air defence identified an ISAF plane that was committing ‘atrocities’ in Afghanistan. The plane identified itself as a passenger plane while in our airspace.”
He added: “We allowed the plane to enter the country and did not allow it to leave. We demanded that it land. At first it refused but, finally, under threat from our jets, it landed in Bandar Abbas.”
Esmaili also referred to a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft, saying that last week a U.S. Lockheed U-2 was identified in Iranian airspace and, after a warning, it left Iranian territory.