Hungarian plane forced down in Iran

Iranian authorities say an aircraft forced down in its territory was a Hungarian aid plane with no Americans aboard.

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Iranian authorities have announced that an aircraft forced down in its territory was a Hungarian aid plane with no Americans aboard, contradicting earlier reports it was carrying US soldiers. A senior military official told state television's Arabic-language channel Al-Alam that the incident dated back to Sept 30, not the past two days as had earlier been reported. The US military in Baghdad also confirmed that there had been no Americans aboard the aircraft.

"The airplane is now being confirmed as a light transport plane with no Americans onboard," US military spokesman Lt David Russell said. "From what I am seeing, it was a Falcon business jet. We have accounted for all our aircraft and none are missing." The White House had previously poured scorn on the Iranian reports, although it had added it was looking into them. "We're looking into the various and conflicting reports coming from the Iranian 'news' agencies, but do not have any information at this time that would lead us to believe they are correct," said spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Iran's Fars news agency earlier stated: "After a day's interrogation, it emerged that the aircraft did not enter Iran intentionally and it was allowed to leave for Afghanistan." State television, however, said the aircraft was a non-American civilian plane. "This plane was not a military plane and did not belong to the United States," an unnamed official was quoted as saying by the website of the television's Arabic-language Al-Alam channel.

"But a few US military soldiers were in the plane," the official added. The plane was forced to land in Iran on Sunday and allowed to fly to Afghanistan on Monday, the website added. * AFP