Iranian Troops Seize Iraqi Oil Well

Iranian troops have entered southern Iraq and seized an oil well located inside the Iraqi side of a disputed border between the two countries, Iraqi officials said Friday.

Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji said an Iranian force comprising 11 soldiers infiltrated the Iran-Iraq border on Friday afternoon and took control of Well-4 in the Fauqa Field. The soldiers raised the Iranian flag over the well and were still in control of the facility, he added.

Iraqi forces have not yet responded to the Iranian incursion and were waiting for orders. The latest intrusion was one of several that have occurred in the last few days, the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi state television reported that the country's national security council is expected to hold an emergency meeting over the issue later on Friday. The meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and it involves ministers of interior, defense, foreign affairs, justice and finance.

Separately, a U.S. military spokesman confirmed the seizure of the Iraqi oil well by Iranian troops, pointing out that it was located in "disputed territory" near the border between the two countries. He said there had been no violence related to the incident and expressed hopes that the issue "will be resolved through peaceful diplomacy between the governments of Iraq and Iran."

Well-4 is one of the five in the Fauqa Field and is located 500m from the Iranian border. It is located along the disputed border between the two countries, which was never clearly defined after the brutal Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The Fauqa Field is estimated to hold 1.55 million barrels of reserve oil.

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