Saudi Arabia Captures Three Iranian Sailors

IRGC speedboat on maneuvers (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 2017-06-19 21:40:53

Saudi Arabia's information ministry confirmed Monday that the Saudi navy intercepted three boats belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in waters near the Marjan oilfield. Saudi forces captured three of five crewmembers from one of the vessels; the remaining two escaped. "The three captured members of the [IRGC] are now being questioned by Saudi authorities," the ministry said. 

Saudi officials contend that the boat was laden with explosives. "It is clear this was intended to be a terrorist act in Saudi territorial waters designed to cause severe damage to people and property," the ministry said.

Iranian government sources disputed this account. "There is no proof that they are military personnel," said Majid Aghababaie, a top official at Iran's interior ministry. In a potentially related claim, Iran alleged that Saudi forces killed an Iranian fisherman over the weekend after his boat crossed over into Saudi territorial waters. 

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are tense: the two nations are actively engaged in proxy wars in Yemen and Syria, and they have not had formal diplomatic ties since last year, when protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Senior IRGC officials contend that Saudi sponsors were behind recent terrorist attacks in Iran’s capital, which killed 17 and wounded dozens more.