Remembering Iran Flight 655 (July 3 1988)

“I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”

George H. W. Bush — August 7 1988

On July 3 1988, Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by a missile cruiser fired from the USS Vincennes under the command of William C. Rogers III. The shoot-down of Iran Air flight 655 may have been an ‘accident’, but Tehran saw it otherwise. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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July 3 1988 – Iran Flight 655

Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai.

The aircraft operating on this route was shot down by a missile cruiser fired from the USS Vincennes under the command of William C. Rogers III.

The incident took place in Iranian airspace, over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, and on the flight’s usual flight path.  All 290 people on board died.

The U.S. government issued notes of regret for the loss of human lives, but never apologized or acknowledged wrongdoing.

George H. W. Bush, the vice president of the United States at the time commented on a separate occasion, speaking to a group of Republican ethnic leaders (7 Aug 1988) said: “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”

According to the Iranian government, Vincennes negligently shot down the civilian aircraft: the airliner was making IFF squawks in Mode III (not Mode II used by Iranian military planes), a signal that identified it as a civilian craft.

The event generated a great deal of criticism of the United States. Some analysts blamed the captain of Vincennes, who had entered Iran’s waters, for reckless and aggressive behavior in a tense and dangerous environment.

To this day, Iran Air continues to use flight number 655 on the Tehran to Dubai route as a memorial to the victims. This event ranks among the deadliest disasters in aviation history.

Former CIA analyst Kenneth M. Pollack wrote: “The shoot-down of Iran Air flight 655 was an accident, but that is not how it was seen in Tehran.”

Following the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 five months later (December 21 1988), the British and American governments initially blamed the PFLP-GC — a Palestinian militant group backed by Syria — with assumptions of assistance from Iran in retaliation for Iran Air Flight 655. To this day, some experts still believe that the two tragedies may very well be linked.

Western media are rather quite on the 30th anniversary of the tragedy. This is hardly surprising. I am a bit more puzzled by the silence of Iranian media, political and religious leaders. The day is still young but so far, there is not even a tweet from Iran Supreme Leader.

The 8th Minute: The day the US shot down Iran Flight 655, killing 290 people including 66 children

REFERENCES

Iran Air Flight 655 — Wikipedia

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Remembering Iran Flight 655 (July 3 1988)

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