AP: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday marked the 27th anniversary of the failed U.S. military operation to rescue 53 American hostages in Tehran by saying God and Iran “clobbered the enemy,” state radio reported. Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday marked the 27th anniversary of the failed U.S. military operation to rescue 53 American hostages in Tehran by saying God and Iran “clobbered the enemy,” state radio reported.
Though the anniversary is not a national holiday or celebrated by most Iranians, the government annually marks the failed attempt called Operation Eagle Claw by the U.S. military to rescue the hostages. Eight U.S. servicemen died in the operation.
As in past years, hundreds of mostly hard-line Iranians gathered about 600 kilometers (373 miles) southeast of the capital, Tehran, to protest Washington’s policies at the site where a U.S. helicopter crashed into a plane after the rescue mission was aborted, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
In Tehran, Ahmadinejad also remembered the April 25, 1980 anniversary.
“On such a day, the enemy, using the most advanced weapons, invaded this land. But heavenly aides supported the Iranian nation and clobbered the enemy in the desert,” the radio quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a Cabinet meeting.
The hostage crisis began Nov. 4, 1979, when the U.S. embassy was seized in Tehran. One hostage was freed because of illness after the rescue attempt, and the other 52 were released as U.S. President Ronald Reagan was being inaugurated in 1981.
The Eagle Claw mission was first aborted after mechanical problems disabled two of eight U.S. Navy and Marine Corps helicopters and a third turned back in the face of a dust storm. The five remaining helicopters were one short of the minimum needed to continue.
But the operation turned from a failure into a fiery disaster when one helicopter tried to leave Desert One, a desolate rendezvous spot in Iran, in a cloud of dust but crashed into a parked C-130 cargo plane loaded with 44 Delta troops.
Washington and Tehran have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, but relations thawed after the 1997 election of the more moderate President Mohammad Khatami after he called for cultural exchanges between both countries.
But U.S. President George W. Bush’s 2003 January declaration that Iran belonged to an “axis of evil” with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and North Korea renewed U.S.-Iran animosity.
The standoff has escalated since Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner, was elected in 2005, and the two countries are at odds over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program and involvement in neighboring Iraq.
Washington accuses Tehran of secretly trying to develop atomic weapons and helping to fuel Shiite militias in Iraq. Iran denies both charges.