March 30, 2007

September US - Iranian Firefight

Time has spoken with U.S. soldiers who were present at the Sept. 7 firefight between U.S. and Iranian soldiers along the Iran-Iraq border, and is reporting that at least one Iranian soldier was killed. It's no wonder the military was trying to keep a tight lid on this story. I mean, we wouldn't want to disclose anything that might annoy the mullahs.

Everyone seems to sense the possible consequences of revealing that a clash between U.S. and Iranian forces had turned deadly. And although the Pentagon has acknowledged that a firefight took place, it says it cannot say anything more. "For that level of detail, you're going to have to ask the [U.S.] military in Baghdad," says Army Lieut. Col. Mark Ballesteros. "We don't know anything about it."

A short Army press release issued on the day of the skirmish offered the following information: U.S. soldiers from the 5th Squadron 73rd Cavalry 82nd Airborne were accompanying Iraqi forces on a routine joint patrol along the border with Iran, about 75 miles east of Baghdad, when they spotted two Iranian soldiers retreating from Iraqi territory back into Iran. A moment later, U.S. and Iraqi forces came upon a third Iranian soldier on the Iraqi side of the border, who stood his ground. As U.S. and Iraqi soldiers approached the Iranian officer and began speaking with him, a platoon of Iranian soldiers appeared and moved to surround the coalition patrol, taking up positions on high ground. At that point, according to the Army's statement, the Iranian captain told the U.S. and Iraqi soldiers that if they tried to leave they would be fired on. Fearing abduction by the Iranians, U.S. troops moved to go anyway, and fighting broke out. Army officials say the Iranian troops fired first with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, and that U.S. troops fell further back into Iraqi territory, while four Iraqi army soldiers, one interpreter and one Iraqi border guard remained in the hands of the Iranians.

The official release says there were no casualties among the Americans, and makes no mention of any on the Iranian side. U.S. soldiers present at the firefight, however, tell TIME that American forces killed at least one Iranian soldier who had been aiming a rocket-propelled grenade at their convoy of Humvees.

It's interesting how different the attitude toward Iran is today, compared to seven months ago. If this shooting incident had happened today, there would have been no need to cover it up. It would just be added to the growing list of intentional provocations by the Iranian regime, this time ending with the deaths of some enemy hostiles. We are still awfully accommodating to a regime that declared war on us 28 years ago, and has never wavered from it, murdering hundreds of Americans along the way.

Who knows, maybe this news is coming out now because our military wants it to come out now, its purpose being to remind Americans and Iranians alike that U.S. soldiers have different rules of engagement than the Brits do. (I am not at all suggesting the British troops should have shot it out with the Iranians.) Austin Bay has a good post on what happened in the capture of the British soldiers.

Posted by dan at March 30, 2007 8:46 PM