Iran asks UN to hold US accountable for plane interception

The Iranian passenger plane was flying over Syria when this happened. (File/AFP)
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Updated 08 August 2020

Iran asks UN to hold US accountable for plane interception

  • Iran’s UN ambassador said the plane “had to change altitude abruptly, causing injuries to the passengers onboard”
  • US official said the US fighter jets “conducted a standard visual inspection” of the Iranian plane “at a safe distance”

UNITED NATIONS: Iran is urging the United Nations to hold the United States accountable for the interception of an Iranian passenger plane by two US fighter jets in the skies over Syria last month, which it called an “unlawful” and an “adventuristic act.”
Iran’s UN ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said in identical letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council circulated Friday that Iran “expresses its strongest objections against this violation of international law and will pursue the issue through relevant international bodies.”
Ravanchi said a Mahan Airlines Airbus A310 en route from Tehran to Beirut on July 23 “was aggressively and unexpectedly intercepted” by two US F-15 fighter jets while traveling through internationally specified air corridors in Syria’s airspace.
“In reaction to the offensive and hazardous manouverings of the United States fighter jets and in order to save the civil aircraft and passengers’ lives, the airliner had to change altitude abruptly, causing injuries to the passengers onboard,” the ambassador said.
US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a Central Command spokesman, told The Associated Press at the time of the incident that a US F-15 “conducted a standard visual inspection” of the Iranian plane “at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) from the airliner.”
He said the inspection was meant to ensure the safety of US coalition troops in Al-Tanf in Syria as the plane was flying over that area. He said once the aircraft was identified as a passenger plane, “the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft.”
The Iranian ambassador said that in line with provisions of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Iran’s civil aviation organization contacted Syrian authorities and called for “a prompt and accurate investigation of the incident.” He said Iranian authorities also launched an investigation after the plane returned from Beirut.
The results of both investigations will be released “after the revision and finalization of the collected data and information” by both teams, Ravanchi said.
“It is obvious that the act by the United States fighter jets is a flagrant violation of the aviation security and freedom of civil aviation reflected in the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and its relevant annexes as well as an infringement of the 1971 Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation,” he said.
Ravanchi said: “It is incumbent upon the United Nations to reject such an unlawful and yet adventuristic act and hold the United States accountable for this irresponsible behavior.”


Lebanese spy chief tests positive for virus in US

Updated 21 October 2020

Lebanese spy chief tests positive for virus in US

  • Lebanon’s General Directorate of Public Security said that Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is in ‘good health,’ but will postpone his return to Beirut following the PCR test

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s security chief has been forced to delay his return from an official visit to the US after testing positive for coronavirus following a series of White House meetings.

Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, director-general of the Lebanese Public Security, met with US officials, including David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs; CIA director Gina Haspel; and national security adviser Robert O’Brien during his recent visit to Washington.

Hale, as well as several other employees from the State Department and other executive branch divisions, are now self-isolating for 14 days, US officials said.

Lebanon’s General Directorate of Public Security said that Ibrahim is in “good health,” but will postpone his return to Beirut following the PCR test.

The Lebanese intelligence chief also held talks with senior US security officials in Washington. He was scheduled to hold meetings in Paris before his return to Beirut.

In Lebanon, the number of coronavirus infections during October rose to more than 24,000, climbing past the September total of 22,000.

Since the outbreak began in February, more than 63,000 cases have been reported in the country, with 525 fatalities.

Firas Abyad, director of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital, said: “The situation is unacceptable. If we continue on this path, we will soon reach a point where the number of critical coronavirus cases outweighs the number of available intensive care beds. This will coincide with winter, when the demand for intensive care beds increases for pneumonia cases, for example.”

Abyad told Arab News: “One of the most difficult cases that doctors can face is the death of a mother after giving birth, due to the repercussions of her infection with the coronavirus, and this happened a few days ago in Tripoli.”

Abyad pointed to a “state of denial” among those infected with the virus, saying some “consider it as just a regular flu, and do not think about the consequences of the disease.”

He added: “We have 215 cases that need intensive care in Lebanon. We are not fully occupied yet, but we may be shortly.”

Almost 80 Lebanese towns have been placed in lockdown by the Ministry of Interior after recording high rates of infection.

The one-week lockdown decree issued on Tuesday included the southern Beirut neighborhoods of Ghobeiry, Haret Hreik, Burj Al-Brajneh, Tahwitet Al-Ghadeer and Al-Laylaki.

According to the Mount Lebanon Governorate, some suburbs “failed to abide by individual and collective preventive measures to limit the spread of active infection chains.”

The lockdown includes a ban on “social events, parties and gatherings of all kinds.”

Cafes, gaming lounges, amusement parks, sports clubs and public parks will also be closed under the restrictions.