1031 GMT February 29, 2020
“I sympathize with the bereaved families of the devoted members of Iran's Army who lost their lives in the tragic plane crash,” Ayatollah Khamenei wrote in his message, IRNA reported.
On Monday, a military cargo plane overshot a runway, crashed and caught fire during a landing, killing 15 people.
The plane was carrying meat from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan when it crashed near the capital Tehran, an army spokesman said, adding that only the flight engineer survived.
"The plane had 16 passengers, 14 of whom were the army crew and two were civilians; 15 were martyred," spokesman Shahin Taqikhani said. "One, the flight engineer, was injured and is currently in hospital."
The aircraft was making emergency landing around 8:30 a.m. Monday at Fat’h Airport, an airfield controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps.
The charred remains of a plane's fuselage, its nose wedged through the wall of what appeared to be a house, were seen in photographs carried by various news agencies.
"A (Boeing) cargo 707 plane carrying meat took off from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and had an emergency landing at Fat’h Airport this morning," the Army said.
"It exited the runway during the landing and caught fire after hitting the wall at the end of the runway."
Fat’h Airport is in Alborz Province, just northwest of Tehran.
The aircraft, which bore the paint scheme of the Iranian Air Force’s civilian Saha Airlines, was meant to land at the nearby Payam International Airport, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Tehran.
Authorities did not immediately offer a reason for the crew’s decision to land instead at Fat’h Airport.
IRNA said doomed flight likewise mistook Fat’h for Payam.
Saha Airlines operated one of the world’s last commercial flights of the Boeing 707, which was first manufactured in 1958 and helped usher in the jet age. The four-engine, narrow-body aircraft were built until 1979.
Iran's ageing air fleet has had a string of crashes in recent years.
Iran has suffered a series of major aviation disasters in recent decades. Its last major crash happened in February 2018, when an Aseman Airlines ATR-72 brought back into service only months earlier after being grounded for seven years crashed in a foggy, mountainous region of southern Iran, killing all 65 people aboard.
In January 2011, an Iran Air Boeing 727 broke to pieces while trying an emergency landing in a snowstorm in northwestern Iran, killing at least 77 people.
Iran has been subject to tough US sanctions for years, hindering the purchase of new airplanes and critical spare parts for the US-made planes in its air force, civilian flag carrier Iran Air and domestic airlines.
Hopes for a change in the situation were dashed last May when the President Trump pulled out of a landmark 2015 deal over Iran's nuclear program, reimposing sanctions that had been lifted as part of the multilateral accord. As a result a deal to purchase tens of passenger planes from Boeing Company was also unilaterally abrogated by the company under pressures exerted by the Trump administration. Civilians are the main victims of the sanctions.