Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Mar. 24 Fifteen British Marines and Navy personnel who were seized on Friday by Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Irans southern shores have been transferred to Tehran, state radio reported on Saturday. Iran Focus
Tehran, Iran, Mar. 24 Fifteen British Marines and Navy personnel who were seized on Friday by Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Irans southern shores have been transferred to Tehran, state radio reported on Saturday.
The group, which includes at least one woman, has been accused by Iranian officials of trespassing in Iranian waters, a claim vehemently denied by the British military and Coalition forces operating in and around Iraq.
Britains Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement on Friday that the British personnel were engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723 and the government of Iraq.
Operating from HMS Cornwall, the UK boarding party had completed a successful inspection of a merchant ship when they and their two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters, it said.
Iranian state media said that the group was transferred to Tehran close to noon on Saturday. All 15 were undergoing interrogation, it said.
The radio announcement quoted Brigadier General Alireza Afshar as saying the detained Britons had “confessed to illegally entering Iranian territorial waters.
The seizure has sparked a potentially-major diplomatic row between London and Tehran.
In London, the Permanent Under-Secretary in Britains Foreign Office Peter Ricketts summoned Iranian ambassador Rasoul Movahedian on Friday in protest to the seizure. Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Britain’s envoy in Tehran shortly afterwards.
On Saturday, Lord Triesman, a senior Foreign Office official, once again summoned the Iranian ambassador to press for the groups release.