Commenting on the act of US fighter jets in harassing an Iranian airliner over Syria on Thursday night (July 23), Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said the move was against international aviation regulations.
Two US fighters carried out dangerous maneuvering near Mahan Air’s Flight 1152 with 163 passengers and crew on board en route to Beirut. The US warplanes embarrassing move put lives of the civilian passengers in danger and terrified them. The airliner’s pilot reportedly reduced flight altitude to avoid colliding with the warplanes which has led to several injuries among passengers.
The US Central Command (CENTCOM) which oversees American troops in the Middle East, has later claimed that the two fighters were on their routine mission near the al-Tanf military base and just conducted “a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters from the airliner."
Referring to CENTCOM’s claim as “ridiculous,” the spokesman said, the move was the outcome of many cases of violation of laws.
“The presence of US troops in Syria is illegal, and so is the mission of its fighter jets. More importantly, no one has allowed the US to inspect civilian airliners with its fighter jets. This is illegal and dangerous, and endangers the lives of civilians especially given the fact that despite claims, no safe distance was being observed,” Mehr News Agency (MNA) quoted Mousavi as saying.
A video footage of the inside of the Iranian airliner broadcast by the Iranian state TV showed a passenger lying immobile on the floor and another with a wounded nose and forehead, presenting his bloodied face mask to the camera.
Several passengers, some seen screaming and shouting, were injured in the flight maneuver over Syria.
Mosavi said that Tehran will pursue this US action through international bodies, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in particular, and will not let America undermine the international laws with its bullying behavior.
He further warned against any case of “new adventurism by the US or the Israeli regime in the region,” stressing that stability of the West Asia should not turn into an instrument for election campaigns of the US.
Earlier on Friday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted “US illegally occupies territory of another State and then harasses a scheduled civil airliner—endangering innocent civilian passengers—ostensibly to protect its occupation forces. Audacity to compound lawlessness upon lawlessness. These outlaws must be stopped before disaster.”
Commenting on the incident, Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami said on July 24 that Tehran lodged a formal complaint with the ICAO, describing Thursday's incident as a "terrorist act, one of aggression".