FAO, Southern Iraq (AFP) Mar 23, 2003
Coalition forces have come under fire from Iranian military units across the border from Iraq, British commandos said.
Iranian anti-aircraft gun emplacements and fixed machine-gun posts have opened fire sporadically at British Royal Marine commandos and low-flying US aircraft.
The 40 Commando marines were in the far southern town of Fao locked in a fire fight with Iraqi Baath party fighters just a few hundred metres (yards) from the border between the two countries, the Shatt al-Arab waterway.
A Royal Marines spokesman said: "We are content that the fire from Iran was inaccurate and ineffective, but none the less puzzling".
The first of several volleys, witnessed by a reporter from London's Daily Mirror, was directed at a US A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack jet which swooped low over the Iraqi town to 'buzz' a gun position.
Royal Marines spotted at least one anti-aircraft tower on the Iranian side
of the waterway attempting to target the jet.
None of the Iranian fire was accurate and all coalition personnel were left unharmed by it.
British and US troops did not return the fire, but they have orders that allow
them to do so if it is necessary for self-defence.
Other pot shots at US-led forces from Iran further north by the border have also been reported in the last few days.
It is not thought the incidents were given official authorisation from Tehran. The Islamic republic's leaders publicly oppose the US-led invasion of Iraq that begun last Thursday.
Iranians living on or near the border with Iraq were suspected of having sympathies
with their Iraqi neighbours.