Iran Denies Saudi Claim it Detained Iranian Troops

Published June 20th, 2017 - 09:16 GMT
An Iranian fishing boat in 2012. Reports emerged on Saturday that Saudi Arabia had killed an Iranian fisherman. (Wikimedia Commons)
An Iranian fishing boat in 2012. Reports emerged on Saturday that Saudi Arabia had killed an Iranian fisherman. (Wikimedia Commons)

An official with the Iranian Interior Ministry has denied a claim by Saudi Arabia that Riyadh has arrested three members of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Majid Aqa-Babaei, the ministry’s director general for border affairs, told the Young Journalists Club on Monday, that, “Saudi Arabia’s claim about the arrest of Iranian military forces is not true.”

Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabia’s information ministry said in a statement that Saudi forces had captured and were questioning “three IRGC members, who were intending to carry out an attack on a major offshore oilfield in the Persian Gulf,” according to an Associated Press report.

“The three were onboard [sic] a boat carrying a large number of explosives headed toward the Marjan oil field, located off the kingdom’s eastern shores between Saudi Arabia and Iran,” the report read.

Aqa-Babaei had on Saturday said that the Saudi coastguard had opened fire on Iranian fishing boats in the waters south of Iran, killing one fisherman.

Saudi Arabia, too, had reported the incident soon after it happened but had not made the claims about arrests and explosives. It offered a changed narrative, however, with the information ministry statement, which came some two days after the initial narrative.

In his Monday remarks, Aqa-Babaei referred to the new allegation about the arrests and said, “This issue has to do with the same two fishing boats” that had been shot at.

He said the Iranians in question were “simply fishermen” and had no types of weapons whatsoever.

In a separate interview with the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) on Monday, Aqa-Babaei confirmed that three Iranians — all known fishermen from the southern Iranian city of Bushehr — had been taken into custody by the Saudi coastguard.

Riyadh has severed its diplomatic ties with Tehran. Therefore, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has been following up on the issue through indirect diplomatic channels.

This article has been shortened from the original.


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