AMARA (Iraq), Dec 20: Iranian troops who for three days occupied a disputed border oil well left the facility during the night but remain on Iraqi soil, the Iraqi government said on Sunday.
“The Iranian forces have pulled back 50 metres from the well and have taken their flag but we now demand they return to where they have come from and that negotiations begin on the demarcation of the border,” said official spokesman Ali Dabbagh.
A senior Iraqi security official, who declined to be named, said that “according to military norms, this is not a full withdrawal.”
“We will continue to act diplomatically,” the official said, adding the army did not issue any statement concerning the incident to avoid ‘any escalation’.
The facility, known as Well 4, lies in disputed territory about 100 metres from the Iranian border, according to Iraqi officials. Iran says the oil well falls within its borders.
Earlier, Mayssam Lafta, chief of security and defence of Iraq’s Maysan province where the well is situated, said the Iranian troops had departed from the facility.
“The Iranian troops left overnight and the workers of the oil company returned to the well on Sunday,” he said, but later he clarified that the workers were in fact a full four kilometres from the well.
According to Mr Lafta, the Iranians are positioned 50 metres east of the well while Iraqi forces are 500 metres to the west, adding the whole area had been declared a ‘military zone’.
Meanwhile, Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani said the situation had been blown out of proportion.
Iran rejected allegations it had occupied an Iraqi oil well, saying the facility lies within its borders. “Our forces are on our own soil and, based on the known international borders, this well belongs to Iran,” Iran’s armed forces command said in a statement.—AFP