British forces almost launched major combat operations against the troops of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, who had encroached over the southeastern Iraqi border in July last year, but a phone convesation between the two country's foreign ministers resolved the standoff, according to a report in the British trade magazine Defense Analysis. British forces, under pressure from US commanders, almost launched major combat operations against the troops of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, who had encroached over the southeastern Iraqi border in July last year, British publication Defense Analysis said on Wednesday.
Iranians “moved across the border to the north and east of Basra and were digging in, the magazine said, quoting British defense sources. Some 9,000 British forces are based in and around the southern Iraqi town of Basra.
"US General Ricardo Sanchez... reportedly requested British forces in the area to prepare plans for offensive operations, if it proved that the Iranians were unwilling to pull back behind the internationally recognized borders," the article said.
"Eventually diplomatic negotiations managed to achieve a pull-back of Iranian forces, so offensive use of British troops was not needed," it said.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported Wednesday that British troops on the ground had to calm down their Iranian counterparts after US commanders almost provoked a conflict with Iran.
A phone call between British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi resolved the standoff, the newspaper reports. British troops were never ordered to prepare for battle, Straw said, dismissing the report in an interview on BBC. “Although our relationship with Iran is complicated we have effective diplomatic relations, and we were able to resolve that matter, as we have all the other ones with Iran, by diplomatic means," he said.
Military necessities do not rule out diplomacy, Jane’s Defense Weekly’s analyst Charles Hillman tells Radio Farda’s London correspondent Shahran Tabari. But the military force should be prepared to take action, if diplomatic negotiations did not succeed. General Sanchez was right to order British troops to prepare for a fight, and his order was consistent with military norms, he adds.
Even though the Iranian forces claimed the area they had entered was a part of Iranian territory, it is only a sovereign Iraqi government that can decide the issue with any authority, he adds.