Published January 23, 2007
BAGHDAD, Iraq – An Iranian diplomat on Tuesday denied Arab media reports that the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad had been besieged by U.S. forces, saying witnesses had mistaken the heavy security provided for a visiting U.N. envoy for a raid.
The denial came quickly after Arab media, citing witnesses, reported that U.S. and Iraqi troops had entered the embassy building twice and helicopters were flying low over the area.
The U.S. military also denied that its forces were involved.
"We have confirmation that there are no U.S. troops involved in anything going on at the Iranian Embassy," the military said in an e-mailed statement.
Iranian diplomat Abbas Otri told The Associated Press that the top U.N. envoy in Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, had visited the embassy earlier Tuesday and witnesses appeared to have thought his guards were a force carrying out a raid in the embassy.
"The guards did not enter the embassy's compound," said Otri, an aide to the Iranian ambassador.
The Iranian embassy is in the central Salhiyah neighborhood on the west bank of the Tigris River. The embassy is few hundred meters (yards) from the Green Zone.
The report came amid increased tensions between Iran and the U.S., which accuses Tehran of facilitating the violence in Iraq and of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranians deny both allegations, but the Iraqis have complained that their country is being caught up in the political battle.