General: Iran Chose Not to Down Intruding US Plane

General: Iran Chose Not to Down Intruding US PlaneGeneral: Iran Chose Not to Down Intruding US Plane

A senior commander said Iran was legally entitled to shoot down a plane carrying US military personnel, which had violated the country's airspace last year, but avoided a hasty measure for the sake of regional stability.

"[We] had the right to destroy the plane because it had entered Iran illegally" but Iran did not do so to help regional stability, the commander of Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base, Brigadier General Farzad Esmaeili, was quoted as saying on Saturday by Press TV.

In September 2014, an A300 Airbus airplane, chartered by the UAE's Fly Dubai airline and flying from the US airbase at Bagram, Afghanistan, was forced to land in the port city of Bandar Abbas in the southern province of Hormozgan, with over 100 American military personnel on board.

Iranian officials first asked the plane to turn around but then ordered it to land at Bandar Abbas airport when they were told that the plane did not have enough fuel to return to Afghanistan.

The plane had initially presented itself as a civilian one, but Iran realized that the aircraft was a military one, since it was carrying military personnel involved in military operations in Afghanistan.

Esmaeili said the first measure to deal with any intruding fighter or civilian aircraft is not to shoot it down.

"In order to [help] establish stability, security and peace in the region, the last measure should not be used as the first one," the commander said, underlining the need to "avoid hasty measures."

Esmaeili pointed to Turkey's recent downing of a Russian jet and said, "The violation of Turkey's airspace has not been proved yet and NATO and Russia are examining the issue."

Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M jet inside Syria on Tuesday, claiming that the aircraft violated Turkish airspace. Russia rejects Turkey's claim, saying it did not enter the country's skies.

The aircraft's two pilots ejected as it was going down in flames. One of them was killed by militants in Syria, while the second was picked up by the Syrian Army.