Iranian Pilot Wants Second Mission Impossible in Yemen after Tough Confrontation with Saudi Jets
The pilot of the Iranian cargo plane that was forced to return home after Saudi fighter jets bombed the Sana’a airport control tower and runway seven times to prevent his landing only moments before the final touchdown said he desires to fly to Yemen again to deliver his humanitarian cargo to the war-ravaged nation.
“Certainly, I will fly to Yemen if I find another opportunity. Of course my other colleagues also rival with each other over such an opportunity,” Captain Behzad Sedaqatnia told FNA on Wednesday.
Captain Sedaqatnia is the only known cargo plane pilot that has won a direct confrontation with several F15 fighter jets as he stood up to several Saudi warplanes last night that were warning him to reroute the plane to a Saudi airport or wait for their missiles. The captain stood his stance, and the Saudi pilots “looked him in the eye with much bewilderment wondering what to do with him next”.
Bombing the Sana’a runway and destroying the control tower was the only chance left for the Saudi pilots to prevent his landing in the Yemeni capital and still spare their country Iran’s wrath and rapid retaliatory action, at least in the short run.
Captain Sedaqatnia’s plane was bound for Yemen on Tuesday but was intercepted by the Saudi fighters before landing in Sana’a International Airport. The Saudi fighter jets staged seven air raids on the airport which also set fire to an aircraft belonging to the al-Saeeda airlines to make the Iranian captain avoid landing.
The cargo plane was due to take humanitarian aid to Yemen and take several civilians, who were critically wounded in the recent Saudi bombings, back to Tehran to receive specialized medical treatment.
Captain Sedaqatnia said the Saudis are not qualified and are not wise enough to have hi-tech equipment and weapons, “because they have dangerous weapons in their hands while this barbaric and Wahhabi tribe is committing frequent crimes under the name of Islam to serve the Zionists”.
Also on Tuesday night, Sedaqatnia had told the Iranian state-run TV that “15 minutes after entering Yemen’s airspace, Saudi fighter jets came to escort us insisting that we change our flight plan and go to Saudi Arabia”.
“Then they once again warned us to go to Saudi Arabia and land in an airport there, but we refused,” the captain added, saying that the Saudi fighter jets have even threatened to shoot the plane down and told him that the cargo plane had no other way, but to change the flight plan accordingly.
“But when we defied and approached the Sana’a International Airport, the Saudi warplanes targeted the airport with rockets and bombs, and when we found out that we couldn’t land in there we decided to return,” said the captain who went to the Omani capital, Muscat, to refuel the plane before returning to Iran.
Captain Sedaqatnia’s plane was the third Iranian aircraft that was carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen, but was intercepted by the Saudi fighter jets and made to return home.
On Thursday, Saudi jet fighters prevented an Iranian cargo plane carrying humanitarian aid from entering Yemen’s airspace. The Iranian civilian plane carried humanitarian aids, including medical equipment, for the Yemeni people who have been under the Saudi-led airstrikes for almost a month now.
For the second consecutive day, the Saudi fighter jets intercepted an Iranian airplane carrying humanitarian aid from entering Yemen’s airspace. Iranian cargo plane carrying food stuff and medical equipment for the Yemeni people was shooed away from Yemen’s airspace on Friday.
In response, the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the Saudi charge d’affaires in Tehran on Friday to protest against the Arab country’s continued blocking of Iran’s cargo planes carrying humanitarian and medical aid to Yemen.
In the absence of the Saudi ambassador to Iran, the country’s chargé d’affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry after the Saudi warplanes prevented the cargo planes of the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), carrying pharmaceutical aids and also the wounded Yemenis who have been treated (in Iran), from entering Yemen’s airspace despite obtaining the needed permissions from Saudi Arabia.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian warned Riyadh of Tehran’s tough reaction after Saudi fighter jets alarmed Iranian cargo planes, carrying humanitarian aid, to keep off Yemen’s airspace.
“Riyadh’s behavior and its siege of Yemen and preventing the dispatch of humanitarian aids will not remain unanswered,” Amir Abdollahian said on Sunday.
“Saudi Arabia is not entitled to decide for others in the region,” he added.
Iran has already sent five consignments of humanitarian aid to Yemen, including a total of 69 tons of relief, medical, treatment, and consumer items
Earlier this month, Head of the Yemeni Red Crescent Society Mohammad Ahmad al-Kebab in a letter to his Iranian counterpart Seyed Amir Mohsen Ziayee thanked Iran for the recent humanitarian and medical aid cargoes sent to his country.
“I appreciate the unsparing help and relief operations as well as the humanitarian attempts of the Iran Red Crescent Society (IRCS),” al-Kebab said in his letter.
He expressed the hope that interactions and mutual cooperation between the two countries’ Red Crescent societies would increase in future.
But last Sunday, the IRCS blasted Saudi Arabia for blocking Iran’s humanitarian aids to Yemen.
“The IRCS humanitarian aid consignments are ready to be dispatched to Yemen, but unfortunately Saudi Arabia prevents their delivery to Yemen,” Shahabeddin Mohammadi Araqi, IRCS deputy managing director for international and humanitarian affairs, said.
Mohammadi Araqi described the Yemeni people’s conditions as critical, and said, “We are in contact with Yemen’s Red Crescent Society and Health Ministry and have included their needs in the new consignment.”
He lamented that planes and ships are not allowed into Yemen’s ports and airports, and said, “Unfortunately, the Saudi government has prevented the dispatch of aids to Yemen.”
According to FNA tallies, the Monarchy’s attacks have so far claimed the lives of at least 3,024 civilians, mostly women and children.
Meanwhile, according to a report by Yemen’s Freedom House Foundation, Saudi airstrikes have killed 3,512 Yemeni people, including 492 children and 209 women, since the beginning of the aggression until April 25.
The report added that 6,189 people were injured, including 978 children and 713 women, during the same period.
About 95,000 families have been displaced due to the Saudi-led airstrikes, according to the report.
The foundation further said 4,898 residential buildings have been either destroyed or damaged and some 857 civil service and public utility facilities have been destroyed.