TEHRAN (Reuters) - Another apparently stray missile has landed
in Iran, government sources said on Wednesday, but an analyst said the country
was unlikely to lose its neutrality on war in neighboring Iraq.
The rocket landed on Monday night near the city of Qasr-e Shirin, in western Kermanshah province. There were no reports of damage and it was not clear who had fired the rocket, the sources said.
Torn between its enmity for both protagonists in the war, the Islamic Republic has vowed neutrality in the conflict. It has also said such errant missile incidents were not uncommon next to a war zone.
"I don't think Iran will lose its patience and answer back. Until now they have behaved very well," political analyst Saeed Leylaz said.
The neighbors, both labeled members of "an axis of evil" by Washington last year, fought each other to a standstill in their 1980-1988 war that killed around one million people.
Since U.S.-led forces started the campaign to topple the rule of President Saddam Hussein have accused both U.S. forces and Iraq of firing missiles that have errantly landed in Iran.
Washington has said it was investigating the reports.
The most serious incident to date occurred on Friday when a missile smashed into an oil refinery in the southwest city of Abadan and injured two workers.
In the first reported anti-war protest in Iran since war started, about 300 people demonstrated outside the main U.N. building in central Tehran on Wednesday, witnesses and state television said.
"Why does America kill innocent Iraqi people for the sake of oil?" asked one demonstrator.
"We don't support Saddam, we back each single Muslim in Iraq," said another.
Television footage showed some protesters were family members of Iranians who died during the brutal Iran-Iraq war and also disabled combatants from that conflict.
In another consequence of war, negotiations between Iran and Iraq on swapping the remains of soldiers killed in the war have been put on hold, the official IRNA news agency said.
The fate of thousands of combatants listed as missing in action remains a source of tension between the two countries. Iraq denies having Iranian war prisoners.
"Iraqi authorities announced they are not ready to negotiate and cooperate with Iran regarding exchanging the remains of whose were killed during Iran-Iraq war," IRNA said, quoting an unnamed official.
Iranian and Iraqi teams combing former war zones have found thousands of bodies since a U.N.-sponsored cease-fire halted the war and last year the International Committee for the Red Cross supervised the repatriation of over 97,400 POWs from both sides.
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