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Iran army warns US forces to steer clear of borders

by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Nov 5, 2008
Tehran's military on Wednesday urged US forces to steer clear of Iran's borders with neighbouring Iraq and warned it would respond "to any invasion," the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran will "take down" any overflying aircraft which fails to respond to warnings, a high-ranking Iranian air force commander was quoted by Fars newsagency as saying.

The armed forces headquarters said in a statement carried by IRNA: "Recently US army helicopters have been spotted flying close to the borders of Iraq with the Islamic republic.

"Given the risk of their invasion... the Islamic republic's defence forces will respond to any invasion."

The statement also urged US commanders in Iraq to keep their forces a secure distance from the borders to avoid any risks.

The unidentified air force commander said his country's reaction to any incursion would go beyond warnings.

"If something happens, we will carry out all the steps from giving a warning to taking down the detected (foreign) airplanes according to regulations," the commander told Fars.

"Due to the threats posed by enemies in recent months, the armed forces are at the highest level of preparation and all of our warnings will be definitely doable," he said.

The commander also said that in the past month the country's forces have dealt with two foreign aircraft that entered Iran's air space without permission.

On October 7, Iran said it had forced down in its territory a Hungarian aid plane, contradicting earlier reports it was carrying US soldiers.

US forces launched a helicopter raid on a Syrian border village with Iraq on October 26 in which according to Damascus eight civilians including children were killed.

A US official in Washington has said the operation targeted a top militant who smuggled arms and fighters into Iraq but officially the State Department and Pentagon declined to comment.

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Monday during a visit to the Syrian capital denounced the raid and expressed "the solidarity of the Iranian people with the Syrian people after the American raid."

The US accuses Tehran of training and arming so-called "special groups" who then launch attacks on American troops inside Iraq.

Iran vehemently denies the allegations and says ongoing violence in its war-torn neighbour is due to the presence of American forces.

In October, General Ray Odierno, who commands US forces in Iraq, accused Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi lawmakers in the hope of undermining an agreement that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq after the end of this year.

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