WASHINGTON — Iranian naval vessels seized 15 British sailors and marines Friday in Iraqi waters, the Ministry of Defense said.
The British personnel from the frigate HMS Cornwall were "engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters," and had completed their inspection of a merchant ship when they were accosted by Iranian vessels, the ministry said in a statement.
"We are urgently pursuing this matter with the Iranian authorities at the highest level and ... the Iranian ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office," the ministry said.
"The British government is demanding the immediate and safe return of our people and equipment."
A fisherman who said he was with a group of Iraqis from Basra in the northern area of the Gulf said he witnessed the event. The fisherman declined to be identified because of security concerns.
"Two boats, each with a crew of six to eight multinational forces, were searching Iraqi and Iranian boats Friday morning in Ras al-Beesha area in the northern entrance of the Arab Gulf, but big Iranian boats came and took the two boats with their crews to the Iranian waters," said the fisherman."
This is what's classically referred to as bad ass tactics. Every Iranian vessel in the area should have been monitored, with coalition forces ready to provide assistance and blow any bellicose moslem ships to hell. But thats probably why Iran chose that particular frigate to accost. This isn't a case of some gung ho grunts attacking a fortified position then realizing they've bitten off more than they can chew, and the reason for establishing land, sea, and air superiority to begin with.
Not as if they couldn't see the approaching Iranians, and going down without a fight is distressing.