Report: Iran seizes 15 British Marines
CNN is reporting that Iran has "seized" British Marines in the Persian Gulf.
"Britain's Ministry of Defense confirms to CNN that Iranian naval vessels have seized 15 British Navy personnel on patrol in the Persian Gulf," says CNN.
The Marines were reportedly "engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters," CNN quotes the UK ministry.
According to a American military official, "the Marines stopped an Iranian ship suspected of smuggling automobiles, and boarded it for an inspection," reports CNN. "While the Marines were on board, six Navy ships from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard showed up and claimed the British had entered Iranian waters."
The seizure occurred after a dispute about whose "waters" the British forces were in. They were taken to Iran, CNN quotes the U.S. official as saying.
Excerpts from the CNN article, available in full here, follow...
An Iraqi fisherman told Reuters the incident took place in the Shatt al-Arab waterway that marks the southern stretch of Iraq's border with Iran. His account could not be immediately confirmed.
The British ministry's statement said the Marines "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."
The statement added: "We are urgently pursuing this matter with the Iranian authorities at the highest level and on the instructions of the Foreign Secretary, the Iranian ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office. The British Government is demanding the immediate and safe return of our people and equipment."
The British Foreign Office said Iran's ambassador in London had been summoned and Britain was demanding their immediate safe release, Reuters reported.