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Iranian Official: British Naval Detainees Admit to Illegally Entering Iranian Waters


An Iranian military commander says 15 British Navy personnel in Iran's custody have admitted to illegally entering Iranian waters.

In interviews with Iranian media Saturday, General Ali Reza Afshar said the British detainees offered "confessions during interrogations." He said they agreed they were in Iranian territory when they were seized.

The general said interrogations are continuing in Tehran, and that the 15 Royal Navy sailors and marines are in good health.

Iran's navy detained the crew Friday after the British conducted a routine inspection of a merchant ship in the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq.

Iranian officials say there is proof that the crew knew they were in Iranian waters, and call it an "aggressive action."

Britain insists its Navy was conducting routine anti-smuggling operations in Iraqi waters, and it has demanded the immediate and safe return of all 15 detainees.

Western media reports say the two countries are communicating through diplomatic channels.

A U.S. Navy spokeswoman, Lieutenant Kaye Trammell, in Bahrain said Friday the British forces were operating well inside observed Iraqi territorial waters.

Three years ago, Iranian forces seized six British marines and two sailors in the same area. They were released three days later.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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