Photo Credit: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt / Wikimedia GFDL 1.2
Mahan Airlines

More than 157 people are dead and at least 5,000 more are injured, with another 80 or more who are still missing after two massive explosions rocked Lebanon’s capital city this past Tuesday (August 4), flattening the entire area around the Port of Beirut and sending a shock wave that rattled and damaged businesses, towns and homes up to 50 miles away. The explosions left at least 300,000 Lebanese citizens homeless, and were felt as far away as Nicosia, in Cyprus.

Iran, as a wealthy and loyal patron of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror organization — which in recent years also operates as a political group and fields lawmakers in the country’s government cabinet as well as in the parliament — was among those who stepped up to provide aid in the wake of this horrific disaster.

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2 Planes Sent By Iran to Beirut?
Each of Iran’s news outlets spoke highly of the aid sent immediately to Lebanon, and quoted the statements of support expressed by Tehran’s leadership.

Each spoke of the two Iranian planes that were dispatched and had landed in Beirut with supplies, personnel and even a field hospital.

Photos of the packed-up cases of aid on conveyor belts being moved on to planes for transport to Beirut were duly posted to Twitter for the public to see, along with footage of the Iranian Red Crescent Society medics and other staff gathering to board the planes with them.

Iran provided medical and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said Thursday. “The support of the Islamic Republic of Iran is on the way to compensate for some of the damage,” Mousavi said, according to the Tasnim News Agency. “Iran’s humanitarian aid to Lebanon is continuing and the Islamic Republic stands by the Lebanese government and its people.”

“Iran stands by Lebanon” explained a photograph showing five men in red-and-white Iranian Red Crescent Society jackets and face masks crowded into their seats by large crates of humanitarian aid.

Boxes ready for shipment were filmed by Mehr News Agency as they made their way by conveyor belt on to a waiting plane in Iran.

A follow-up tweet with another bit of footage filmed by a cell phone showed the “second Iranian plane carrying food and medical supplies” from Mahan Air that had landed in Beirut.

Iranian Media: Tehran Stands by Beirut
“Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami spoke with his Lebanese counterpart, Zeina Akar, expressing his condolences and sympathy with the government, Armed Forces and people of Lebanon,” according to the FARS News Agency.

Hatami said the Iranian government and Armed Forces were preparing to send medical staff and equipment, including a field hospital, to Lebanon, as the two defense ministers discussed how best to send the aid to Beirut. Akar expressed her appreciation for Iran’s contributions to Lebanon.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani likewise told his Lebanese counterpart, President Michel Aoun, in a telephone conversation on Thursday the Iranian government stands ready to provide Lebanon with its needs for food, medicine and health equipment after Tuesday’s massive explosions, according to IRNA.

Humanitarian aid of Iran’s Red Crescent Society (IRCS) was sent from the Iranian capital, Tehran to Lebanon with two cargo aircraft Wednesday (August 5) on two aircraft which delivered 95 tons of food and medicine as well as a mobile hospital to Lebanon, according to FARS.

IRCS spokesperson Mohammad Nasiri told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Wednesday the organization had dispatched a 37-member medical team to Beirut along with medical supplies and equipment, in line with the Society’s humanitarian goals, in response to the request for help from the head of the Lebanese Red Cross, George Kettaneh.

What About Iranian Flight #3?
So what about that third Iranian plane? Flights one and two — Air Qeshm and Mahan Air — landed at Beirut International Airport, and there is footage documenting the event.

According to a report by The Jerusalem Post, however, “on August 6, an Iranian 747 with the serial number 21486 and operated by Saha Airlines (CPN-7962/EP-SHB) appeared to head into Beirut,” albeit without a destination or point of origin marked for open-source flight-tracking applications.

Although it seems to have left no trace of its incoming route on the normal open source flight-tracking applications, one can see that it did depart Beirut on Thursday. It is not clear what it was doing there, what or who was aboard the aircraft either on the way in, nor on the way out.

Iran has repeatedly used its aircraft to ferry precision guidance missile parts into the region for the use of Hezbollah in converting the terrorist group’s older-generation weaponry into next-generation advanced weaponry.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.