BANDAR ABBAS, Iran — Iranian helicopters scattered flowers into the Persian Gulf waters on Saturday as family members and relatives remembered the 290 passengers killed when a US warship shot down an Iranian airliner 22 years ago.
About 250 relatives of victims and officials sailed from the southern port city of Bandar Abbas to the spot where the Iran Air A300 Airbus was downed on July 3, 1988 — just a month before the end of the Iraq-Iran war.
The USS Vincennes shot down the airliner shortly after it took off from Bandar Abbas for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Washington said the Vincennes mistook the airliner for a hostile Iranian fighter jet. Iran maintains it was a deliberate attack.
A statement from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was read out at the ceremony, saying the "disaster was not an understandable accident, but a declaration of war against humanity" and claiming it was carried out "with the covert planning of White House leaders."
Iran has said it received $130 million from a 1996 settlement that included compensation for families of the victims.