New York Times: The Iranian government said Saturday that an oil field that its troops occupied a day earlier was on its side of the border with Iraq, despite Iraqi claims to the contrary. The New York Times
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS and SA’AD AL-IZZI
BAGHDAD — The Iranian government said Saturday that an oil field that its troops occupied a day earlier was on its side of the border with Iraq, despite Iraqi claims to the contrary.
A group of about 11 Iranian soldiers seized a portion of the remote Fakka oil field in Maysan Province in southeastern Iraq early Friday, according to Iraq.
Government officials in Baghdad said they had summoned the Iranian ambassador to protest the military action, but diplomatic efforts had so far failed to resolve the dispute.
Ramin Mihman-Parast, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, denied on Saturday that Iranian soldiers were occupying an Iraqi oil field, said the Iranian state news agency.
But a statement attributed to Iran’s Armed Services Command took a harder line.
“Our forces are on our own soil, and based on the known international borders this well belongs to Iran,” the statement said, according to Iran’s state news agency.
Iraqi soldiers in the area said they had frequently had disputes with Iranian troops over the oil field, with each side replacing the other nation’s flag with its own every few weeks.
Iraq’s National Security Council issued a statement late Friday calling the occupation of the Fakka field a “breach of Iraqi sovereignty” and demanded that Iran remove the Iranian flag its soldiers raised above one of the field’s wells, known as Well No. 4.
“This well is inside Iraqi territory,” said Labeed Abawi, Iraq’s deputy foreign affairs minister.
Mr. Abawi said that sections of the long border between Iran and Iraq were unmarked, but that a technical committee consisting of representatives from each country had been seeking to resolve disputes when Iranian troops raided the field.
Also on Saturday, Iraq said 185 bodies of people who were probably killed during the late 1980s and early 1990s were found in a mass grave near Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
Duraid Adnan and Omar al-Jawoshy contributed reporting.