Editor's Note: American forces will have a truly daunting dogfight on their hands if Iran decides they are being attacked and rolls their tanks, and never mind Iran's nuclear arsenal. The Bush administration has stated this was an accident, and it seems the Iranians are accepting that for now. One must wonder, however, about the sheer dumb luck. One missile hit the Oil Ministry building in Abadan, a government facility. This is an accident? Advocates of this campaign within and without the administration have stated bluntly that Iraq is only the beginning. Could they be stupid enough to dare Iran to engage in this war? Do the understand how this is going over on the streets of the Middle East? Put it this way If America finds itself engaged in combat with Iran and Iraq simultaneously, the entire region will explode. This is insane. - wrp
Rockets Hit Iran; US, UK Jets Enter Airspace - IRNA
Saturday 22 March 2003
TEHRAN - Three missiles fired by U.S. jets taking part in attacks in Iraq landed over the border in southwestern Iran, Iran's official IRNA news agency said on Saturday.
Quoting an unnamed military commander, IRNA also said that U.S. and British military jets violated the Islamic Republic's airspace several times on Friday and Saturday during operations against targets in southern Iraq.
"In two cases, rockets from American planes hit (southwestern Iran),'' the commander said. The rockets fell in the area of Maniuhi, close to the border with Iraq. The commander gave no further details and there were no reports of casualties or damage.
Another rocket hit an oil refinery depot on Friday evening in the city of Abadan, about 30 miles east of the southern Iraqi city of Basra, government officials and witnesses told Reuters. Two guards at the depot were injured in the blast.
In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Phillip Reeker said the United States had told Iran it took the report of misfired missiles landing in Iranian territory seriously and would investigate.
"Today, we are sending a second message (to Tehran) through the Swiss confirming that we are looking into it,'' Reeker added. "We take seriously Iranian sovereignty and territorial integrity.''
Earlier, a Pentagon official said the U.S. military was investigating indications that a ship-launched American cruise missile went off course and perhaps landed in Iran.
"A lot of these things have been used since the air war started. While they are precisely guided, nothing is perfect,'' said the official, who asked not to be identified.
In London, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said he could not confirm "suggestions that any of our missiles have gone astray into Iran.''
"Those suggestions, obviously, are being investigated and we are continuing our contacts with the government there,'' he said.
Tehran has not publicly accused U.S.-led forces of deliberately targeting Iran, suggesting that it considers the missiles were strays.
Torn by its enmity for both Iraq and the United States, Iran has condemned the U.S.-led military attack on its western neighbor but vowed to remain neutral in the conflict.
U.S., UK WARNED OVER AIRSPACE
"Our border guards are on full alert,'' the military commander in the border town of Shalamcheh, northwest of Abadan, told IRNA.
Iranian officials had previously said it was not clear where the rocket which hit the Abadan depot had come from.
But IRNA, quoting Abadan Governor Jamal Alami, also blamed U.S. forces. "Last night an American plane fired a rocket...and it hit one of the depots,'' he said.
Oil industry sources, who declined to be named, said operations at Abadan's refinery were unaffected.
Iran's Foreign Ministry on Friday warned the ambassadors of Britain and Switzerland -- which represents U.S. interests in Iran -- to respect its airspace.
But a local political analyst in Tehran, who asked not to be named, said it was unlikely that the rockets had originated from British or U.S. forces.
"If you look at the trajectory of the military assault being carried out in Iraq by the British and Americans, these bombs would have been way off course, which just doesn't seem likely,'' he said.
He said another possibility was that the rockets came from Iraqi forces trying to shoot down U.S. and British planes.
Iran has little sympathy for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who ordered the use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
But Tehran also has poor relations with Washington, which severed diplomatic ties with Iran shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution and last year included it in the "axis of evil'' list along with Iraq and North Korea.
Misguided Missiles May Have Hit Iran, Pentagon Says
Saturday 22 March 2003
WASHINGTON As many as three U.S. missiles aimed at targets in Iraq may have landed in Iran, two officials at the Pentagon said Saturday.
The State Department assured Iran, in a message sent through Swiss intermediaries, that the United States was investigating. Spokesman Philip Reeker offered public assurances that the United States respects Iran's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The official Iranian news agency reported that four rockets have landed in Iran over the past two days.
U.S. and Iranian officials are discussing the matter and Iran realizes that any strike was unintentional, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
At least three people were injured, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
Iran also complained that coalition aircraft have violated its airspace near the southern Iraqi port of Basra. Iran has closed its airspace to coalition and Iraqi warplanes.
British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said he could not confirm reports of stray missiles landing in Iran. "I have seen these suggestions and obviously they are being investigated and we are continuing our contact with the government there," he said.
In Tehran, an Iranian lawmaker said a missile hit a government building in western Iran near the Iraqi border on Friday, injuring two people.
The Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of Britain and Switzerland which represents U.S. interests in Iran to protest, the Iranian news agency said, without giving details on the violations.
The missile struck an Oil Ministry building in Abadan, said Mohammad Kianoush Rad, a legislator for the southwest Iranian province of Khuzestan, where the city is located. Two people were injured, he said.
"This is unacceptable," he told The Associated Press. "We hope this was only a stray missile."
He said it was not clear where the missile had come from. Abadan is about 30 miles east of Basra, which was under attack by U.S.-led forces.
The news agency also reported that two rockets hit the village of Manyuhi near the border with Faw on Saturday.
An Iranian government spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, confirmed that a missile had landed somewhere in Iranian territory near the Iraqi border, but he would not give details.
He said that Iran had demanded explanations from the Swiss and British embassies in Tehran. The United States has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
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