Iranian Soldiers Briefly Seized Iraqi Oil Field, Iraq Alleges

December 19, 2009|By Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizhe | Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizhe,The Washington Post

BAGHDAD - -The Iraqi government condemned Friday a reported cross-border raid by Iranian soldiers who allegedly raised their flag at an Iraqi oil field near the border.

"The Iraqi government considers this matter a transgression on Iraq's sovereignty," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Friday night in a television interview.

Dabbagh said Iraq would deliver a formal written protest to Iran's ambassador in Baghdad.

Iraqi officials said Iranian soldiers lowered an Iraqi flag at the Fakka oil field in Maysan province and hoisted an Iranian flag.

"An Iranian force entered this well and stayed for a few hours," said Gen. Habib al-Hussaini, an Iraqi army commander in charge of the area where the reported raid took place. "It was a provocative operation by the Iranian forces."

Hussaini said late Friday that Iraqi troops were in control of the oil field.

A report on Iran's semiofficial news agency, Mehr, quoted a spokesman of the country's national oil company as denying that Iranian soldiers had attempted to take control of an oil field in Iraq.

Cross-border raids by Iranian troops along the poorly delineated border between Iran and Iraq occur sporadically, but Friday's incident drew the immediate attention of top officials in Baghdad, who convened a rare emergency national security meeting.

Iran and Iraq have generally close ties, but territorial disputes remain that date to the war the countries fought in the 1980s.

"We will be able to solve any border dispute that arises with Iran's government, thanks to the strong relationship that connects us," Dabbagh said.

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