Iran marks the 25th anniversary of the killing of 290 people in a US missile cruiser’s attack on an Iranian passenger plane in 1988.
The Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of Iran held a meeting in Tehran on Wednesday to commemorate the victims. The meeting was attended by high-ranking Iranian Army and Air Force officials, together with military attachés from countries such as India, Pakistan, and Italy.
During the event, Commander of Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili provided technical details proving that the captain of the US warship made a terrible choice to order firing missiles at the civilian aircraft.
“Based on regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Americans are responsible for the incident and the casualties,” Esmaili stressed.
“They paid (compensation) for the victims and the airplane, but they never accepted responsibility for the incident. As the presence of the US warship in the Persian Gulf was illegal, all the consequences of its presence were also illegal,” he argued.
Carrying 274 passengers and 16 crew members, the Airbus A-300 had just taken off from the southern Iranian coastal city of Bandar Abbas and was climbing inside an internationally recognized route to Dubai when it was targeted by two Standard missiles fired from USS Vincennes.
Following the incident, US officials claimed their warship mistook the jetliner for an attacking Iranian F-14 fighter plane. The allegation was made as highly sophisticated radar systems and electronic battle gear had been mounted on the warship.
Washington later paid some 95 million dollars in compensation for the Iranian victims and the aircraft.
The money, however, failed to placate the anti-US sentiments in Iran, where people expected the USS Vincennes’ captain, William Rogers, to be held responsible for his criminal act.
Instead, Rogers was awarded the prestigious medal of Legion of Merit for his so-called outstanding service.
The head of Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organization Mohammad-Baqer Khorramshad condemned the decoration of the US captain, saying Washington should have formally apologized to the Iranian nation, to say the least.
On Wednesday, a group of Iranians also gathered at the site of the incident in the Persian Gulf and threw flowers into water in memory of their relatives killed onboard the airplane.