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Flight 655: When the US ‘Mistakenly’ Killed 290 Iranians

Ever since the success of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the US and Iran have been on tumultuous terms. But perhaps the one incident that stands out between the two nations is when the US gunned down Iranian Air Flight 655 and killed all of its 290 passengers. 

On July 3, 1988, towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war, a US Navy ship known as the USS Vincennes was exchanging fire with small Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf when flight 655 took off from the nearby Bandar Abbas International airport on its way to Dubai. The airport was allegedly utilized by both civilian and military aircraft.

The US claimed that the Vincennes mistook the rather obvious structure of the A300 aircraft for a smaller and faster F-14 Fighter jet and fired two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 290 passengers and crew members on board.

US officials claimed it was a mistake, all while the “warship was equipped with highly sophisticated radar systems and electronic battle gear at the time of the attack.’’ Scores of families were devastated, and Iran sued the US in the International Court of Justice. It was not until 1996 that the US compensated the victims’ families.

A few years later, the captain of the cruiser, William C. Rogers, was cleared of all crimes and awarded America’s Legion of Merit medal by then-US president George Bush for his “outstanding service” during operations in the Persian Gulf.

In response to the incident, Iran’s foreign minister has said, “What is US human rights? Answer: Unparalleled commitment to killing people!”

Even with US-imposed sanctions, Iran continues to persevere, vowing to never forget the tragedy of Flight 655, nor the 290 innocent lives lost as a result.

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  • Zamena Manekia Manji

    Zamena Manekia Manji is a breaking news writer for TMJ News with experience of over 10 years in the field. Her areas of focus are important breaking stories in North America specifically untold stories from a minority lens.

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