Iran said on Friday that a US fighter plane "harassed" an Iranian civilian plane in a terrorist attack that injured and panicked passengers, and rejected a US report that the jet was only doing a visual inspection.
The state television video of the interior of the Mahan Air airliner showed one passenger lying motionless on the floor and another with an injured nose and forehead, who presented his bloody face mask to the camera.
Several passengers, some of whom were seen screaming and screaming, were injured in the flight maneuver over Syria when, according to Iranian media, the airliner quickly changed altitude to avoid a collision.
The U.S. military said its F-15 had kept a safe distance.
The central command, which oversees American troops in the region, said the fighter had visually inspected the airliner as it passed near the Tanf garrison in Syria, which was home to the US Armed Forces.
The inspection was conducted "at a safe distance of about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) … according to international standards to ensure the security of the coalition personnel in the Tanf garrison," said senior spokesman Captain Bill Urban.
"After the F-15 pilot identified the plane as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened the distance to the plane."
The United States has long accused Mahan Air of carrying weapons for Iranian-affiliated guerrillas in Syria and elsewhere, and has imposed sanctions on the airline since 2011.
The passenger plane pilot contacted the jet pilots to warn them to keep a safe distance, and they identified themselves as Americans, the official Iranian news agency IRIB reported.
Iranian Road Minister Mohammad Eslami was quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying that Tehran has lodged a complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organization describing Thursday's incident as a "terrorist act, an act of aggression".
Laya Joneydi, vice president of legal affairs, was quoted by the Iranian media as saying that the US action was "harassing a passenger plane" and "clearly violating aviation security".
"The statements made so far (by the US military) are unjustified and not convincing," she said.
The powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon condemned the incident in a statement as "a terrorist act … that could have had consequences of unknown magnitude in the region".
The Iranian State Department said the encounter could be related to the upcoming US presidential election, state-run media reported.
"West Asian security should not become a toy in the US election campaign," said Department spokesman Abbas Mousavi. He didn't go into more detail.
"Iran will not leave any hostile steps against its nation unanswered, and will respond to irrational steps in a timely and determined manner," said Mousavi.
Secretary of State Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States of endangering civilian passengers. "These criminals must be stopped before the disaster strikes," he tweeted.
The Iranian plane flew from Tehran to Beirut.
Video recordings showed oxygen masks that had fallen off the roof panels. A jet can be seen through a seat window flying some distance away in a clear blue sky.
"I saw a black plane approach, and then we lost our balance," an unidentified injured passenger told state television.
"It was a jet. Almost as close to our plane."
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)