Iran's ambassador to Lebanon has denounced the harassment of a Beirut-bound Iranian passenger plane, saying it was a "blatant example of terrorist acts by the US" in the region.
Mohammad-Jalal Firouznia made the remarks on Sunday at Beirut’s Al Rasoul Al Aazam Hospital, where he visited passengers injured on the Iranian airliner after dangerous maneuvering by US fighter jets over the Syrian airspace forced the plane to quickly change altitude in order to avoid a collision.
“The move by the American fighter jets is a blatant example of terrorist and criminal acts committed by Washington in the region,” Firouznia said.
“Iran will take all necessary juridical and legal action to condemn the actions of US fighter jets, and will pursue the issue at the United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Organization and related courts, especially with regard to passengers and those injured.”
The incident is “by no means justifiable,” the Iranian ambassador stressed, adding, “the United States bears the responsibility for all the consequences of this terrorist and coward act.”
Firouznia said all regional problems stem from the Americans’ illegitimate presence, adding their expulsion is the only way to end insecurity and threats in the Middle East.
“The harassment of the Mahan Air passenger plane by US fighter jets is a criminal act committed by the Americans. They had no right to approach the plane in the first place. By doing so, they endangered the lives of all passengers on the flight and threatened international aviation security. We will definitely follow up on this issue,” he noted.
Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command (CENTCOM), said that a single F-15 had made a “standard visual inspection” of the Iranian airliner at “a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed the claim as "ridiculous,” saying the “illegal and dangerous” US maneuvering amounted to playing with the lives of innocent people.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said Washington displayed “audacity to compound lawlessness upon lawlessness”, adding the regime must be reined in to prevent more disasters.