Tran. Min. calls U.S. harassment of Iranian passenger plane terrorist act

July 24, 2020 - 20:35

TEHRAN – Iranian Minister of Transport and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami on Friday condemned the U.S. for harassing an Iranian passenger plane over Syria, calling the move a terrorist act.

Eslami announced that Iran has submitted an official complaint to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in this regard.

“The harassment of an Iranian plane by U.S. warplanes should be met with condemnation… Iran submitted its legal complaint to ICAO in black and white this morning,” IRNA quoted Eslami as saying.

Two U.S. warplanes dangerously came close to Mahan Air’s Airbus A310 passenger plane over Syria on Thursday, forcing the pilot to quickly change altitude to avoid a collision. The plane was en route from Tehran to Beirut.  At least 12 people onboard were injured.

“Iran’s permanent representative to ICAO will immediately follow up on Iran’s complaint. We expect that Iran’s action leads to the condemnation of the U.S. terrorist move,” Eslami said in an interview with IRNA on Friday.

The minister also rejected the U.S. explanation that the warplanes conducted a “standard visual inspection” of the Iranian plane at a “safe distance”, saying that “The U.S. aggression is not acceptable by any logic, and Iran expects an immediate investigation and condemnation.”

The U.S. Central Command claimed in a statement that the U.S. F-15 aircrafts was on a mission of conducting a visual inspection of the Iranian plane when it passed near At Tanf garrison in Syria.

“Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft,” Bill Urban, the spokesman for the U.S. central Command, claimed.

However, the U.S. official didn’t say why the warplanes forced the Iranian plane to suddenly change altitude, a move that shocked passengers on board and led to many injuries.

“Harassing a passenger plane is a terrorist act, and how can a passenger plane that is flying in its commercial route according to aviation protocols be attacked and threatened by another country's warplanes?” wondered Eslami.

Eslami said the U.S. warplane’s maneuvering was “illegal and in violation of the Chicago Convention” on International Civil Aviation, and that Iran has right to follow up on the incident at the legal level.

“Iran will never forgive the U.S. administration’s flagrant aggression,” noted the minister.

He also called on the governments of Syria and Lebanon to take reciprocal steps and help Iran by filing lawsuits against the U.S.

“Unfortunately, 12 people, including the flight’s crew and passengers, have been hurt in this terrorist act. As the warplanes harassed (the plane), the pilot was forced to immediately lower the altitude to avoid being hit by a missile, which greatly hurt the passengers,” the transport minister stated.

SKM/PA

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