Reuters: Britain is to resume naval boarding operations in the northern Gulf that it suspended last month after 15 sailors and marines were held by Iran, Defence Secretary Des Browne told parliament on Tuesday. LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is to resume naval boarding operations in the northern Gulf that it suspended last month after 15 sailors and marines were held by Iran, Defence Secretary Des Browne told parliament on Tuesday.
Britain suspended its participation in anti-smuggling searches after Iranian gunboats captured the sailors near the sea border between Iran and Iraq shortly after they searched a cargo ship.
But Browne said in a written statement to parliament the mission would now resume with unspecified new measures taken “to ensure the risk to boarding operations is minimized”.
Britain has been part of the mission searching ships in the area alongside the U.S. and Australian navies to prevent smuggling into and out of Iraq.
Iran said the British personnel were in its waters and held them for 13 days. Britain said they were in Iraqi waters.
Browne has ordered an inquiry into how the British personnel were captured. They had been operating in shallow waters in small boats far from their ship, and a helicopter that was scrambled when they lost contact with commanders arrived only after they were captured.
Browne has also acknowledged making a mistake by allowing two of the former captives to sell their stories to newspapers after they returned to Britain. He has ordered a separate, smaller inquiry into the media handling of the affair.