Saturday, July 25, 2020

Intl. Outcry Continues After US Warplanes' Harassment of Iranian Airliner
Saturday, 25 July 2020 6:03 PM
Press TV

File photo shows two airborne US F-15 warplanes (Photo by AFP)

Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen keep up the chorus of international outcry that has followed two American warplanes’ dangerous and provocative harassment of a Beirut-bound Iranian airliner over the Syrian airspace.

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti “vehemently condemned” the Thursday incident that saw the warplanes -- enlisted with the US-led forces, who are illegally deployed to Syria -- flying precariously close to Mahan Air’s Flight 1152 that had taken off from Tehran.

Cited by Lebanon-based al-Ahed news website on Saturday, Hitti blasted the fly-by due to its endangering the lives of civilians, some of whom belonged to Lebanon, calling the episode “unacceptable.”

“Even if there were no Lebanese on board, we would still protest,” Hitti added, and noted that the presence of Lebanese nationals has only reinforced Lebanon’s condemnation of the incident.

At the time of the harassment, Syria’s civil aviation authority specified the airspace over Syria’s hugely-strategic al-Tanf region as the place where the incident had happened.

The terrorist US Central Command that directs the US forces in Western Asia confirmed later that a single F-15 aircraft had made a “visual inspection” of the Iranian airliner “in accordance with international standards... to ensure the safety of [US-led] coalition personnel” at the US military base in al-Tanf.

The pilot was forced to swiftly lower the altitude at which the airliner was flying to avoid a collision with the US warplanes. The precaution resulted in injuries in some of the passengers, who hit their heads hard against the plane’s ceiling.

The flight, nevertheless, landed safely afterwards in the Lebanese capital, and all the passengers left the airliner.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement has also condemned the incident, calling it a “terrorist act” and a “very dangerous matter” that could have had dire consequences for the entire Middle East region.

Also on Saturday, Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hasan said Beirut was going to lodge a complaint at international institutions and organizations over the incident. Earlier, the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran had also condemned the harassment, vowing to lodge a complaint over the "unlawful" act at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

‘A double crime’

Meanwhile, Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja’afari considered the fly-by to be “a double crime,” stressing that the Americans had not only violated the Syrian sovereignty, but also contravened the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation by staging the maneuvering.

“This is not the first time they threaten Iranian passenger planes… they dropped an Iranian plane over the [Persian] Gulf waters on July 3rd,1988 that led to the martyrdom of 290 passengers,” al-Ja’afari told IRNA in a statement.

He reiterated Damascus’ position of the 2014-present presence of US-led forces in the Arab country, rejecting the deployment as completely illegal.

Washington and its allies launched their military invasion in Syria in 2014 under the pretext of battling the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh, forgoing any permission from Damascus. The US-led forces retain the presence, although Syria and its allies, Iran and Russia, defeated the Takfiris in late 2017.

According to the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), Syria’s Ambassador in Tehran Adnan Mahmoud also called the harassment “a tangible embodiment of the US terrorist method that targets the lives of civilians, including children and women, in a flagrant violation of international conventions.”

“The hostile act can’t be separated from the US practices in supporting terrorism and looting the Syrian people’s resources,” Adnan said in a statement.

Chiming in with the international criticism was Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement that called the maneuvering near the civilian airliner "a blatant attack, a violation of international agreements in air navigation, and a terrorist practice," Yemen’s al-Masirah television network reported.

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