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Missiles Reportedly Strike Iran

BY Admin  March 22, 2003 at 2:15 PM EDT

Iran’s official news agency said two missiles hit an area known as Maniuhi in southwestern Iran, just over the Iraqi border. A third reportedly hit an oil refinery in the town of Abadan, about 30 miles east of the southern Iraq city of Basra, injuring two guards.

U.S. State Department Spokesman Phillip Reeker said the U.S. was contacting Iran, through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, confirming that the United States is investigating the incident.

“We take seriously Iranian sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Reeker said.

Reports said that some U.S. officials admit that it is possible that errant missiles could have hit Iranian territory.

However, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, speaking in London said he could not confirm “suggestions that any of our missiles have gone astray into Iran.”

Hoon said the coalition was investigating the matter and that British diplomats were in contact with government officials in Iran.

The IRNA agency also said the U.S. planes had violated Iranian airspace during attacks in southern Iraq. The Iranian government has warned U.S. and British diplomats to respect its airspace.

“Our border guards are on full alert,” IRNA said.

One Iranian expert reportedly said that it was also possible that Iraqi forces fired the missiles in an effort to down U.S. planes.

Reports indicate, however, that Iran, for now, is willing to accept that the missile strikes were a mistake. Iran has supported Shia Muslim rebels in their efforts to oust Saddam Hussein. Saddam launched the attack that sparked the bloody eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Iran also has few relations with the United States. Iran’s leaders have referred to the United States as a “great Satan,” while President Bush said last year that Iran was part of an “axis of evil.”

Iran was critical of the United States at the beginning of military action, saying that the Iraqi people would be hurt by the hostilities, but has pledged to remain militarily neutral during the conflict.