Lebanon, Iran to sue US over harassment of airliner in Syria

TEHRAN: Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hasan says Beirut is going to lodge a complaint at international institutions and organizations after two US fighter jets harassed a Lebanon-bound Iranian civilian aircraft over Syria’s airspace, and caused injuries among the passengers.

On Saturday, Hasan denounced the incident as a “criminal intimidation” and a shameful act for Americans, stating that Lebanon will soon announce its official position over the matter.

He noted that his ministry, on behalf of the passengers of Mahan Air’s Flight 1152, will sue Washington over mental and physical threats posed to passengers.

The Iranian aircraft had taken off from the capital Tehran and was en route to the Lebanese capital Beirut when US warplanes conducted aggressive maneuvers and came dangerously close to the plane over Syria’s al-Tanf region on Thursday night.

The Lebanese health minister went on to say that 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,” Hasan commented.

Separately, Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement censured the US military’s harassment of the Iranian plane as “a blatant violation of international air navigation treaties and a terrorist act by the United States and its collaborator Israel.”

“The US arrogance and its stubborn persistence of violating Syria’s sovereignty are an aggressive approach and a barbaric behavior from a criminal establishment, which tramples on all international regulations,” the media bureau of Ansarullah said in a statement released on Saturday.

It stressed that resistance remains the strongest and most effective option in the face of arrogant powers, and will force them to respect the rights of world nations and not to infringe upon their rights and the sovereignty of their homelands.

Ansarullah finally called for the unity of all freedom-loving people to foil destructive US-Israeli plots.

A senior official with Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, whose group is part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also slammed the incident.

“The United States is proving to the entire world day by day that it follows the logic of gangsters and bandits, and not that of the international law. The harassment of the Iranian civilian aircraft better exposed the ugly nature of America,” the deputy secretary-general and official spokesman for the movement, Nasr al-Shammari, wrote in a post published on his official Twitter page.

US harassment of Iranian airliner equal to ‘aerial banditry’

Also on Saturday, head of the Iranian Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights Ali Baqeri-Kani slammed the harassment of the Iranian passenger plane by two American fighter jets over Syria as a glaring example of air piracy, and a serious threat to global aviation security.

“The terrorist CENTCOM’s harassment of the Iranian passenger plane over Syria was in violation of aviation security, freedom of civilian flights, and the fundamental and basic rules and principles of international humanitarian law,” he said.

Baqeri-Kani stressed that the Iranian Judiciary will seriously pursue the case against those who ordered, perpetrated, aided and abetted the harassment of the Iranian passenger plane.

Several passengers on the Iranian plane were injured on Thursday after the pilot rapidly changed altitude to avoid collision with the US jet. Footage of the inside of the airliner broadcast by Iranian TV on Friday showed a passenger lying immobile on the floor and another with a wounded nose and forehead.

Baqeri-Kani said passengers of of the harassed airliner can sue the US military for damages in Iranian courts.

“All passengers on Mahan Air Flight 1152, Iranians and non-Iranian, can sue the terrorist US military – commanders, perpetrators, supervisors and deputies – in Iranian courts for moral and physical damages,” he said.

He said complainants could also take an international legal route through the International Civil Aviation Organization, the UN agency that oversees international civil aviation agreements.

He said Iranian courts follow laws that deal with human rights violations and “adventurist and terrorist acts of the United States in the region.”

Iran said on Friday it had lodged a complaint with the ICAO.

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