Lebanon and Iran said on Saturday they will lodge complaints at international organizations after US warplanes harassed an Iranian civilian plane over Syria, causing injuries among passengers.
Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan denounced the incident as a “criminal intimidation” and “a blatant attack”, saying the ministry, on behalf of the passengers of Mahan Air’s Flight 1152, will sue Washington over mental and physical threats posed to passengers.
Several passengers on airliner heading from Tehran to Beirut were injured on Thursday after the pilot rapidly changed altitude to avoid collision with the US fighter jets that were dangerously close to the plane.
Iran's television broadcast footage filmed on a mobile phone of screaming passengers as the pilot took emergency action.
A passenger with blood running down his forehead and another who had fallen to the floor were seen in the video, and one jet was visible through the window.
IRNA said the pilot made contact on the radio with the US fighter jets, before the aircraft landed safely in the Lebanese capital.
The US military said its fighter jets were at a safe distance and conducting a visual inspection of the airliner as it passed near the Tanf garrison in Syria, home to American forces.
The Lebanese health minister said international criminal courts have a responsibility to look into such threats in accordance with international law, which stipulates the safety and protection of the lives of passengers.
“While the earth is facing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the sky is suffering from an evil disease to which we must respond firmly,” Hassan commented.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti condemned the act by US warplanes for endangering the safety of civilians.
Hitti said the attempt to intercept a civilian plane with military aircraft is “unacceptable”.
“Even if there were no Lebanese on board, we would protest,” the minister stressed, noting that the presence of Lebanese “makes our position stronger”.
Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah said in a statement on Friday that the US harassment of the Iranian plane was a “terrorist act” and a “very dangerous matter” that could have dire consequences for the entire region.
Iran’s Judiciary said on Saturday that passengers of the airliner can sue the US military for damages in Iranian courts and that it will seriously pursue the case against those who ordered, perpetrated, aided and abetted the harassment of the Iranian passenger plane.
“All passengers on Mahan Air Flight 1152, Iranianand non-Iranian, can sue the terrorist US military – commanders, perpetrators, supervisors and deputies – in Iranian courts for moral and physical damages,” Ali Baqeri-Kani, the head of the Judiciary’s Human Rights Office said.
He said complainants could also take an international legal route through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN agency that oversees international civil aviation agreements.
The official said Iranian courts follow laws that deal with human rights violations and “adventurist and terrorist acts of the United States in the region.”
He called the US act “a glaring example of air piracy, and a serious threat to global aviation security”.
Iran said on Friday it had lodged complaints with the ICAO and the Swiss Embassy in Tehran that handles US interests in Iran since ties were cut in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The United Nations on Friday stressed that all countries must respect the safety of civilian air travel.
“As a matter of, of principle, the safety of civilian air travel should be respected by all,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric during a daily press briefing when he was asked about the incident.
Reuters, AFP, and Press TV contributed to this story.