Saudi Arabia ‘forces’ Iranian boats to leave territorial waters

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Saudi Arabia has said that three Iranian boats were “forced” to leave its territorial waters last week.

The incident comes at a time of high tension between Riyadh and Tehran.

According to the state-run Saudi Press Agency, at 6.30pm local time on Thursday, the Saudi coastguard spotted three Iranian boats inside the Kingdom’s territorial waters. After the boats “refused to respond” to repeated warnings by the coastguard, “warning shots were fired… forcing them to retreat.”

The Saudi reports did not specify what kind of boats they were, but Iranian state media said that the coastguard had opened fire on Iranian fishermen who had strayed into Saudi waters. The fishermen apparently left their home port on 21 June for a 10-day trip. It is unclear whether the reports refer to the same incident.

READ: If the US doesn’t respond to Iran’s challenge, its reputation is on the line

The tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran has risen over the past year. A series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil facilities, which had a significant impact on global oil markets, have been blamed by the Kingdom and its ally the US on Iran.

Tehran is said to have used its regional Shia proxies, including the Houthi militia in Yemen and the Popular Mobilisation Forces in Iraq, to carry out the attacks.

In June, the UN repeated such concerns and said that the debris of the cruise missiles used in the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities was inspected and found to be “of Iranian origin.” Iran rejected the UN report, however, and claimed that it had been compiled under pressure from the US and Saudi Arabia.

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Middle East Monitor

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