A botched attempt by the U.S. to abduct two senior Iranian officials on a visit to Iraq 10 weeks ago was the flashpoint for the current crisis in which detained 15 British troops in the Persian Gulf, the Independent reported.
The U.S. move happened on the morning of Jan. 11, when forces carried out a surprise raid on an established Iranian liaison's office in northern Iraq, the newspaper claimed.
While the forces nabbed five junior Iranian officials, whom the U.S. still holds on accusations of being intelligence agents, the paper said the objective of the mission was to seize two men at the "very heart of the Iranian security establishment."
The current crisis began March 23, when Iran grabbed 15 British sailors and marines and claimed the crew was in Iranian waters. Britain insists its troops were in Iraqi waters working under a U.N. mandate.