Report: Iranian troops cross into southern Iraq; attack British troops; Update: Sun article added; Update: Debunked?

posted at 10:23 pm on June 25, 2007 by Bryan

If we had a bat signal around here, this story would earn it.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces have been spotted by British troops crossing the border into southern Iraq, The Sun tabloid reported on Tuesday.

Britain’s defence ministry would not confirm or deny the report, with a spokesman declining to comment on “intelligence matters”.

An unidentified intelligence source told the tabloid: “It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran — but nobody has officially declared it.”

“We have hard proof that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have crossed the border to attack us. It is very hard for us to strike back. All we can do is try to defend ourselves. We are badly on the back foot.”

Have the Iranians judged the strength of the British military based on its most recent close encounter with the Royal Navy? If so, now’s a good time to start worrying.

Update (AP): The Sun’s article is out. I’m suspicious that a story as potentially big as this is being leaked to a tabloid instead of one of the prestige papers, but here you go:

IRANIAN forces are being choppered over the Iraqi border to bomb Our Boys, intelligence chiefs say.

Military experts claim this worrying move means we are at WAR with Iran in all but name…

Our Boys picked up the Iranian helicopters on radar crossing into empty desert.

The sightings have been confirmed to The Sun by very senior military sources.

At least two Brit squaddies are thought to have been killed by bombs planted during these incursions into Maysan province — Corporal Ben Leaning, 24, and Trooper Kristen Turton, 27…

Until now, secret units from Iran’s fanatical RGC have restricted themselves to just training and arming Shia rebels in Iraq.

Why are they choppering in to plant bombs? They own southern Iraq; they could just send the materiel across the border and let their proxies do it for them. And why would they risk trying something as provocative as this with the Brits having already declared their intention to withdraw and the U.S. on the brink of following suit? They’ll have a free hand in Iraq once we’re gone. It’s madness to chance a casus belli with a direct attack on coalition troops.

I guess it all depends on how mad you think the mad mullahs are. Not as mad as has been suggested, perhaps.

Update: Bob Owens checks around with a few people who would know and discovers that the Maysan province story smells funny.

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Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, both making noises and probing Iraq’s borders. Syria to the north and west, probably with many Saddam’s missing WMDs in their bag of tricks.

Now, all that remains is Saudi Arabia (to the south and west) to drop their pretense of being friendly to us, and they got us surrounded folks! (Well, all except that little bit of Jordan, and who knows where their allegiances would lie when push comes to shove.) Well, at least the Saudis aren’t much of a threat militarily.

The situation we have let the liberals here and the pandering to world opinion force us into would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic and dangerous.

Hey George… Secure the D@^^& borders. Here and there. Use whatever force is necessary to stop them when they step one foot over the border without permission.

LegendHasIt on June 26, 2007 at 1:39 AM

Why are these direct attacks happening against British troops? I don’t think this is a coincidence.

An overt attack against American soldiers would be a perfectly fine justification for an invasion. But I suppose in the propaganda war of 2007, the average Oprah addict can’t be expected to understand such an abstract concept as an “ally.”

logis on June 26, 2007 at 1:57 AM

logis on June 26, 2007 at 1:57 AM

The British are the weakest link. With a new PM coming in, a large part of their citizens against the war, and a very tight ROE make the British a prime target. The trick will be hurting the British enough for them to leave without starting a major war.

unseen on June 26, 2007 at 2:10 AM

I smell something fishy here. To think that we are going to watch helicopters come across the border, deposit troops, and return without being engaged at all seems somewhat nonsensical.

crosspatch on June 26, 2007 at 2:19 AM

And to add, if they were engaged and destroyed in Iraqi territory, the Iranians would probably never say a word about it. They would deny it happened. Something doesn’t ring true in all of this.

crosspatch on June 26, 2007 at 2:20 AM

So when do the gloves come off?

They invade our embassy an act of war and we do nothing.

They supply arms to kill 100’s of our troops an act of war and we do nothing.

They capture 15 NATO troops and under our NATO treaty is an act of war and we do nothing.

They invade a country an act of war and we do nothing.

They help launch a war on Israel last year and we do nothing.

They help Hamas move into power and we do nothing.

So when can we do something? Are we really that undermanned in the area?

unseen on June 25, 2007 at 10:37 PM

Yup, 100 percent agreement. The Brits hold that area, and are slowly passing it off to the locals…Regardless, something needs to be done. I am amazed at how the world has accepted the Iranians military blustering without consequence. If we postured this way, we would be raked over the coals. Oh, wait, thats already happend. So, whats holding us back now?

Lejero on June 26, 2007 at 2:27 AM

it BS
Why not Turkey they have a real beef with the Kurdish folk in northern Iraq coming across there border and killing there people, this people I no I just offended Al Sharpton by saying this people but for real there fucked up.

American8298 on June 26, 2007 at 2:36 AM

“And why would they risk trying something as provocative as this with the Brits having already declared their intention to withdraw and the U.S. on the brink of following suit?”

My thoughts on this are that in addition to control of all or a portion of Iraq, Iran views us, (especially the British), as weak and would like to bloody us on the way out to bolster their eventual case for victory in the eyes of an all to significant portion of the world.

On the other hand, considering the updated information that Iran is flying in men and weapons instead of directly attacking our troops, it’s likely they’ve simply learned from experience that we will let them get away with it so as not to escalate the conflict.

From their perspective, if there are no consequences for their actions they might as well continue. The more desperate we appear for withdrawal, the bolder they are likely to become. If nothing else, it strengthens their hand at the bargaining table.

FloatingRock on June 26, 2007 at 3:42 AM

Sounds like their proxies arn’t enough or are becoming to scared to die for Allah taking on forces they can’t beat. I don’t know why we must stay on defense, blast them!

Dollayo on June 26, 2007 at 3:50 AM

Attacking these helicopters inside Iraq would not be an “escalation” on our part. We would not have to follow up with any attacks on Iran proper. Simply destroy the Iranian helicopters and crews inside Iraq. We would be perfectly within our mandate to help Iran defend itself while its own defenses are being built up.

The only thing I can figure that makes sense is that we requested permission from the Iraqi govt to attack and the permission was denied for whatever reason. It might be more of a case of Iraq not wanting to start a war with Iran right now than the US or the British worrying about it.

crosspatch on June 26, 2007 at 3:57 AM

I also suspect that our intelligence services have had proof of Iran’s interference for a long while and are only making the information public now in an effort to gradually escalate the rhetoric hoping to frighten Iran into stopping their activities.

Iran will either get the message or, hopefully, we will take appropriate actions. Whether or not we will follow through with the implied threat, we can only hope. So far it appears that Iran doesn’t believe we’ll follow through.

FloatingRock on June 26, 2007 at 3:58 AM


You may be right about Iraq’s veto, but I do think that it would be an escalation even though we would be within our rights. If our primary goal right now is to follow the course set out by the Iraq Study Group and withdraw, (or draw-down), then an attack on Iranian forces, even inside Iraq, would be heading in the opposite direction. On the other hand, by “leaking” this information, the eventual conclusion will be that we stop Iran by force if they refuse to back down. The reason we want them to stop, and why Iran doesn’t want to stop, is because they want to declare “victory” with the strongest hand they think we’ll let them get away with.

This is all predicated on the notion that our guys have probably had proof of Iran’s involvement for a long time now, (my opinion), and we are bringing the information to the public now for one of two reasons that I can think of: One, we are preparing to take care of the Iran problem, (I hope), or two, we are preparing to withdraw and want to eliminate or minimize Iran’s eventual “victory” claim.

Of course, I’m not sure I’m correct… this is just how I view the situation based on what little information I have.

FloatingRock on June 26, 2007 at 4:12 AM

“It might be more of a case of Iraq not wanting to start a war with Iran right now than the US or the British worrying about it.”

The main problem with that theory is that Iran is killing and wounding our guys, and probably has been for a long time now. If Iraq turns out to be chiefly responsible for staying our hand… well, our command structure would still be to blame for allowing them that veto.

FloatingRock on June 26, 2007 at 4:21 AM

I can think of no good reason

A: not to attack the helicopters while they were on the ground in Iraq.

B: Not to collect the deposited Iranians after the helicopters left the area.

That leads me to believe that this could be crap. Unless there is some confirmation, I am leaning towards this is fiction and didn’t happen. There is no way we would simply sit there and watch this happen without at the very least pickup up the Iranians that were deposited by the helicopters. There is absolutely zero risk in doing that. Same with attacking the craft while they were on the ground.

Doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t even make sense in a “trying to avoid a larger conflict” sense. We have already picked up Iranians in various circumstances, this wouldn’t be anything new to pick these up as well.

crosspatch on June 26, 2007 at 4:41 AM

“I’m suspicious that a story as potentially big as this is being leaked to a tabloid instead of one of the prestige papers”

That was very diplomatic wording. The Sun is basically a “scandal sheet”. They would be the last ones the govt would leak that to if it were to be taken seriously.

So … the helicopters were carrying bombs? So we know exactly when they came in, where they went, AND what they were carrying but did absolutely nothing but watch (and report it to The Sun)? Possible, but not bloody likely.

crosspatch on June 26, 2007 at 4:51 AM

I agree with your points A and B and you may be right about the veracity of the article as well.

But if the article is correct, (which is what I’ve been assuming, perhaps incorrectly), we probably didn’t respond for political reasons, such as Iraq’s veto, as you suggested.

It seems unlikely, but perhaps we couldn’t respond in time. The restrictive ROE might be the culprit in that regard rather than our inability. Perhaps it’s only happened once or twice and we weren’t ready for it.

FloatingRock on June 26, 2007 at 4:52 AM

I said in my post above that I’ve been assuming the article is true, but “supposing” would have been a more accurate.

FloatingRock on June 26, 2007 at 5:12 AM

If that is the case then the public disclosure would put Iran on notice but the Sun wouldn’t be the one to publish that in as probably nobody in Tehran reads The Sun.

Iran can’t afford a war. They are running out of fuel due to a lack of refining capacity and a lack of cash.

crosspatch on June 26, 2007 at 5:20 AM

And the cash crisis is getting worse now that Japan is refusing to lend them any money.

crosspatch on June 26, 2007 at 5:21 AM

Don’t get high hopes about major help from the Aussies. They are great folks – don’t get me wrong. But their total population is 20.4 million. Texas and California are each larger than that.

roydee43 on June 26, 2007 at 5:56 AM

I, too, doubt the veracity of this article. It has a lot of holes in it – too much that makes zero sense. Waiting for verification, but still hating Iran (sigh).

zeebeach on June 26, 2007 at 6:44 AM

We have hard proof that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have crossed the border to attack us. It is very hard for us to strike back. All we can do is try to defend ourselves. We are badly on the back foot.”

The effeminate “Great Britain” that liberals have created: They don’t even know how to “strike back.”

Do us all a favor, “Great” Britain, and just pull out of Iraq. Because of your liberal, PC culture that has infiltrated your once great military, you have become a hindrance. You are actually encouraging enemies to boldly attack you.

januarius on June 26, 2007 at 6:54 AM

“Good. I’d prefer a stand up fight to all this sneakin around.”

Iblis on June 25, 2007 at 10:27 PM

Im with you.

Viper1 on June 26, 2007 at 7:17 AM

Now that the *event* has been posted on the internet, the Iranian maneuvers are going to be revealed more to the public.

Why should they not so boldly move in? Our government, our population, our allies, etc…have all announced that we are leaving. Iran is just doing the logical thing. And they are probably already more entrenched than we realize.

What galls me is the blatant cowardice by our Congress has placed our military in extreme danger, guaranteeing more casualties and defeat. The pull-out mantra will ensure the deaths of many in Iraq. Their “support the troops; not the war” is pure illogical crap.

jatfla on June 26, 2007 at 8:03 AM

It keeps getting more interesting. Mike Yon was there (the attack hit the vehicle behind his, just after they cleared the ambush zone) and just emailed me that 46 of the 48 bombs in the ambush were EFPs.

He had to run (he’s in Baqubah, and no doubt rather busy), and so I don’t have context for this update.

Bob Owens on June 26, 2007 at 9:15 AM

Thanks, Bob. Wouldn’t EFPs be of Iranian origin? But that doesn’t mean the Iranian RG planted them or were involved in the ambush.

bnelson44 on June 26, 2007 at 9:22 AM

Limerick on June 26, 2007 at 12:19 AM

Yeah, that makes sense. I guess that’s why I’m an armchair general.

O/T…My soldier knows where he’s going. I’ll wait to tell you that cause I’m not sure if it’s common knowledge yet. But he called me a little concerned about the loosening of the ROE’s. I explained to him that my concern, above him coming home safe, was his emotional health and dealing with what he is going to have to do. I told him not to second guess the Army’s rational. He should do as he is told and when he comes home, leave it there. I told him about the 7 boys that we killed going after the terrorists hiding behind them, and explained that we should have been doing this all along. I told him that the Muslim culture is a culture of death and any Muslim that tries to preserve his life is looked upon as less than a good Muslim. I also told him that these Iraqi’s have a responsibility to their country that they have abdicated. They allow the terrorists to hide in their homes and out of fear for their families keep silent about known IED’s etc. I told him that these people have the choice of dying for a good cause or a bad cause. Their freedom is a good cause and their fear of death is a bad cause. It is their choice to die like sheep allowing terrorists hiding behind them and he does not have to take any responsibility on himself for his actions that are within the ROE’s and military law. I know he will never murder anyone, and it’s because he is a Christian person that he would be affected by the accidental killing so-called innocents. I told him he needs to detach his conscience that he operates under in the real world from his duty as a warrior. The only conscience he should have as a soldier is that which is based on military expectations.

I related a story to him about a soldier who was manning a checkpoint when a female approached and refused to stop as commanded (in Iraqi and with signs at the checkpoint). The second he fired a warning shot, the gunner on the hummer opened up with his 50cal and cut her in half. When they checked her for intel, they found a white flag in her pocket. Well, this soldier is haunted by this event and blames himself for starting the firefight. I told my son that was BS! That woman escalated this event by not following orders. These people have no respect for human life and set these kind of scenarios up in order to screw with our troopers heads. They achieved their goal in this case because this soldier didn’t re-up and is fodder for the anti-war crowd. He needs to put the blame exactly where it belongs…..on the people who refuse to stand up for their own country and callously put his buddies in harms way for their own self preservation.

I wonder what you think of that. Matter of fact, I’d like to know what anyone thinks.

csdeven on June 26, 2007 at 9:36 AM

Thanks, Bob. Wouldn’t EFPs be of Iranian origin? But that doesn’t mean the Iranian RG planted them or were involved in the ambush.

I don’t know. There have “homegrown” EFPs of local origin, they just aren’t as effective against our armor. The British vehicle hit was a lightly armored, so I can’t judge anything based upon that bit of information.

And you’re right on your second point: to date, there is no indication at all from anything that I can find that directly indicts the Iranians in this attack.

Bob Owens on June 26, 2007 at 9:52 AM

If the report is true, and probably it isn-t, it could also indicate an Iranian respose to or test of the new Prime Minister. And, if the story is not true, it is probably not true yet. Something will happen…just wait and see.

Blaise on June 26, 2007 at 11:42 AM

The Brits are essentially ball-less and emasculated (feminized). Don’t expect any action from them that requires a pair. I spoke to a couple of Brits at a work event a few weeks ago and I need no further proof that there is not a single pair of balls in evidence among them. In fact, they acted as though they had priorities other than growing a pair and acting like men, as if being a man and having a pair of balls wasn’t even something to aspire to. That’s the situation we have here.

cardindex7 on June 26, 2007 at 6:41 PM