Tasnim – Iran on Thursday commemorated the 32nd anniversary of the downing of its passenger aircraft by a US Navy guided-missile cruiser over the Persian Gulf, which killed 290 people.
A memorial ceremony was held today on the eve of the tragedy’s anniversary, with the participants, including the families of the victims and local officials, tossing flowers into the waters of Hormozgan Province near Hengam Island.
They also chanted slogans such as “Down with the US” and “Down with Israel”.
On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes fired missiles at an Iran Air Airbus A300B2 which was flying over the Strait of Hormuz from the port city of Bandar Abbas to Dubai, carrying 274 passengers and 16 crew members.
Following the attack, the plane disintegrated and crashed into the Persian Gulf waters, killing all 290 on board, among them 66 children.
US officials claimed that the USS Vincennes had mistaken Iran Air Flight 655 for a warplane. This is while the warship was equipped with highly sophisticated radar systems and electronic battle gear at the time of the attack.
In 1990, the captain of the cruiser, William C. Rogers, was cleared of any wrongdoing, and was even awarded America’s Legion of Merit medal by then US president George Bush for his “outstanding service” during operations in the Persian Gulf.
In a post on its Twitter account, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Washington neither “apologized” nor felt “embarrassed” over the crime.
“What is US human rights? Answer: Unparalleled commitment to killing people! Persian Gulf has long witnessed US crimes in the region. 32yrs ago, US deliberately shot down an Iranian airplane. 290 were killed. US has not yet apologized nor embarrassed,” it said.
‘Crime of the century’
Speaking during Thursday’s commemoration ceremony in the port city of Bandar Abbas, Abbas Gholamshahi, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corp (IRGC), said “criminal America took the most inhumane action and committed the crime of the century in 1988 by downing a passenger plane.”
The US then “gave a medal of honor to the captain of the cruiser for his inhumane act,” he added.
“However, they no longer dare do so and we witnessed how their most advanced drone was shot down for violating Iran’s airspace after receiving a warning,” he added.
The commander was referring to the downing by the IRGC of an advanced US-made RQ-4 Global Hawk over the territorial waters off Hormozgan on June 20, 2019.
The unmanned US aircraft had been taken down by Iran’s indigenous Khordad 3 air defense system after it breached the country’s airspace on a spying mission despite the IRGC’s numerous warnings.