Iran denies firing at allies
TEHRAN: An Iranian official Monday strongly denied charges by British commandos that coalition troops in southern Iraq had come under fire from Iranian forces across the border.
“We consider this allegation as baseless,” the official told AFP.
British Royal Marine commandos on the Fao peninsula said Sunday that both they and low-flying US aircraft had come under sporadic fire from Iranian anti-aircraft batteries and fixed machine-gun posts. The 40 Commando marines were in the town of Fao on the far south of the peninsula, just a few hundred metres from the Shatt al-Arab waterway that marks the border.
A Royal Marines spokesman said: “We are content that the fire from Iran was inaccurate and ineffective, but none the less puzzling”.
The first of several volleys, witnessed by a reporter from London’s Daily Mirror, was directed at a US A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack jet that swooped low over the Iraqi town to “buzz” a gun position. Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi-Lari warned Sunday that the Iranian army would “react” if there were further violations of its airspace by US and British warplanes.
“Our soldiers on the border are on full alert ... If they observe the slightest violation of Iranian airspace or at the border they will certainly react,” he threatened.
Iran denies helping Ansar Al-Islam: Iran also denied any link to Ansar al-Islam, a hardline Islamist group operating in Iraqi Kurdistan accused by Washington of being linked to al-Qaeda that has come under massive US air strikes.
For the Iranian government “Ansar al-Islam is an extremist group with suspect objectives, and there is no link between this group and Iran”, foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying.
Kharazi says rockets hitting Iran is “natural”: Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi has said US or Iraqi missiles hitting Iranian territory was a “natural” consequence of the war raging in Iraq.
“Taking into account that we are neighbour of Iraq and the activities of belligerent forces throughout Iraq, it is natural that a rocket or missile comes towards us,” Kharaz told state television late Sunday.
“Of course, we have strongly protested, and they have promised to respect our airspace.
Iran’s interior ministry has said that, since Friday, three US missiles had hit the southern region of Abadan, and that an Iraqi missile had hit Sardasht in the western Kurdistan province.
Kharazi said Iran was examining the type of the rockets.
“We protested to the British and American forces, and we will obtain more precise information to register our protest officially”, he said. “They should take into account” the documents and evidences Iran will show them.
Speaking of the Iraqi rocket, he said it “fortunately did not work” and that Iraqi officials had said “they did not intend to violate Iran’s airspace and it was only accidental.” —AFP