Syria starts investigation into Tehran-Beirut flight incident

July 29, 2020 - 19:10

TEHRAN - Hassan Rezaeifar, the director of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Board, said on Wednesday that Syria has started investigation into an incident that occurred to a Tehran-Beirut flight on July 23.

“Syria is responsible for investigating Mahan airline’s Tehran-Baku flight incident and has started the investigation,” ISNA quoted Rezaeifar as saying.

Based on article 13 of the Chicago Convention, Syria, as the country in which the incident occurred, has officially started the investigation and asked for cooperation with Iran’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Board and the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety of France.

Two U.S. warplanes dangerously came close to Mahan Air’s Airbus A310 passenger plane over Syria on July 23, forcing the pilot to quickly change altitude to avoid a collision. The plane was en route from Tehran to Beirut.  At least 12 people aboard were injured.

Iranian officials have called the move a terrorist act.

Ahmad Momenirad, a professor of international law from the University of Tehran, has said that the United States violated the Chicago Convention by harassing the Iranian passenger plane in Syria’s sky.

“The action taken by the United States’ fighter jets in harassing the Iranian passenger plane is clear violation of the Chicago Convention, Montreal 1971 Convention and also regulations of ICAO [the International Civil Aviation Organization],” Momenirad told IRNA in an interview published on Tuesday.

Laya Joneidi, the presidential aide for legal affairs, also said the action against the passenger plane is a violation of the principles of international law.

She said the actions taken by the U.S. fighters are a violation of Articles 3 and 44 of the International Civil Aviation Convention (Chicago Convention).

According to Joneidi, the explanations provided by the U.S. so far are unjustified and unconvincing.

The actions taken by the fighters will bring international responsibility for their respective governments and open the way for Iran to take legal action against the U.S. in the ICAO Council and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the presidential aide remarked.

Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday that the U.S. act in threatening the passenger plane is “not forgivable”.

In a meeting with top judicial officials, he called on the national prosecutor general and the Judiciary’s deputy director for international affairs to pursue the complaints of the passengers.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has said the United States’ harassment of the passenger plane constitutes a serious violation of international agreements relating to the safety of civil aviation.

Euro-Med Monitor’s legal adviser Tariq Hajjar said that “the U.S. military command’s description of the incident as ‘professional’ is inaccurate.”

“It is not professional for an armed military plane to harass a civilian plane that poses no danger at all, thus endangering the lives of dozens of civilian passengers,” he added.