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Iran: Three killed as fighter jet crashes near sports hall in Tabriz

Two crew members and a civilian reported dead after plane hit the ground near a school, which was closed at the time
Firefighters tackle the blaze at the crash site of the fighter jet in Tabriz (AFP)

An Iranian military jet fighter crashed on Monday in a residential area of the northwestern city of Tabriz killing three people, including two crew members, state television reported.

The plane hit the ground near a school, which was closed at the time due to the coronavirus pandemic, and a sports hall, it said.

Army spokesman Shahin Taqi-Khani said technical failure appeared to be the cause of the crash, but that an investigation was underway.

The pilot and a trainee pilot were killed, as well as a civilian passing by in a car, he said.

Local official Mohammad-Bagher Honarvar told state television the plane went down at around 9am in the central Tabriz neighbourhood of Monajem.

Reza Yousefi, a local army official, told state media at the site of the crash that the plane was an F5 model used for training purposes and also said it had crashed due to technical issues.

Yousefi praised the two pilots for “sacrificing” themselves as they had managed to avoid housing and landed the plane in an open area next to the sports hall.

The official news agency IRNA posted on its website video footage showing firefighters putting out a blaze at the crash site.

Iran's air force has mostly Russian MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets that date back to the Soviet era, as well as some Chinese aircraft.

Some American F-4 and F-5 fighter jets dating back to before the 1979 Islamic revolution are also part of its air fleet.