TEHRAN Iran is commemorating the 31st anniversary of the downing of its passenger plane by a US Navy guided-missile cruiser in the Persian Gulf waters.
A memorial ceremony was held at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport on Tuesday, with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Minister of Road and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami and Touraj Dehghani-Zangeneh, the CEO of Irans flag carrier, Iran Air, in attendance.
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.
American officials claimed that their warship had mistaken the civilian aircraft for a supersonic and variable-sweep wing Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter jet.
At a ceremony marking the tragedy, the Bandar Abbas Airport was renamed after Flight 655 martyrs.
Speaking at the event, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said the US has been spreading lies about the downing of the Iranian plane.
They (the Americans) said the captain of the warship had made a mistake. If he did make a mistake, why did you award the captain? You should have punished him if he had made a mistake; therefore, you are lying, he said.
The US has refused to apologize or admit legal liability for Iran Air Flight 655.
In 1990, the captain of the cruiser, William C. Rogers, was cleared of any wrongdoing, and was even awarded Americas Legion of Merit medal by then US president George Bush for his outstanding service during operations in the Persian Gulf.
The Iranian government took the matter to the UN Security Council and the World Court, asking for an apology and compensation.
In 1996, the US under the administration of then president Bill Clinton agreed to express its deep regrets and pay $61.8 million in compensation to the victims’ families, but did not admit any guilt or legal liability.