Military Jet Crashes in Iran

A small military jet crashed in northwestern Iran on Monday, killing the commander of the ground forces of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and at least 12 other people, state media said.

The plane, which belongs to the Revolutionary Guards, was attempting an emergency landing at Oroumieh, located 560 miles northwest of the capital, Tehran, near the Turkish border, state television reported.

Gen. Ahmad Kazemi, commander of the ground forces of the Revolutionary Guards, was among the 11 military officers killed in the crash, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported, quoting Guards spokesman Gen. Masoud Jazayeri.

State television said 11 passengers and two crew members were killed. However, state radio said the plane had a crew of three. The discrepancy could not be immediately explained.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash.

State television said the plane was a Falcon jet, which is the preferred aircraft of high-ranking military officers in Iran.

Iran has a history of aircraft accidents involving a heavy loss of life. The government has blamed the U.S. trade embargo which makes it impossible for Iran to buy parts for its old U.S.-built aircraft.

In December, 115 people were killed when a military transport plane crashed into a 10-story apartment building near Tehran's Mehrabad airport as the pilot was returning to the airport shortly after takeoff to make an emergency landing.

In 2003, a Russian-made Ilyushin-76 carrying members of the Revolutionary Guards crashed in the mountains of southeastern Iran, killing 302 people.

In 2002, a Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154 struck snow-covered mountains in western Iran, killing all 119 people on board.