A US federal judge has ordered Iran to pay more than $813m in damages and interest to the families of 241 US soldiers killed in the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon.
Judge Royce Lambeth wrote in a ruling this week that Tehran had to be “punished to the fullest extent legally possible” for the bombing in Beirut on October 23, 1983, the deadliest ever against US soldiers.
“After this opinion, this court will have issued over $8.8bn in judgments against Iran as a result of the 1983 Beirut bombing,” Lamberth wrote in the ruling, a copy of which was seen on Friday by the AFP news agency.
“Iran is racking up quite a bill from its sponsorship of terrorism,” the Washington judge added, noting that “a number of other Beirut bombing cases remain pending, and their completion will surely increase this amount.”
At least 241 American soldiers, including 220 Marines, were killed in the Lebanese capital Beirut when a truck packed with explosives rammed through barricades and detonated in front of the US barracks near the international airport.
The same day, in a co-ordinated attack, 58 French paratroopers were killed by a truck bomb at the French barracks in Beirut.
The US has blamed the twin bombings on Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia party which is backed by Iran.
Lamberth, whose ruling was delivered on Tuesday, wrote that “no award, however many billions it contained, could accurately reflect the countless lives that have been changed by Iran’s dastardly acts”.
The nearly $813.77m verdict is the eighth against Iran resulting from the 1983 bombing.
In 2007, under a law allowing foreign governments to be sued in US courts, the same judge ordered Iran to pay $2.65bn to victims’ families, an amount he wrote at the time “may be the largest ever entered by a court of the United States against a foreign nation.”
“The court applauds plaintiffs’ persistent efforts to hold Iran accountable for its cowardly support of terrorism,” Lamberth wrote in this week’s ruling.
“This horrific act impacted countless individuals and their families, a number of whom receive awards in this lawsuit,” the court added.