So says Anna Mulrine in “Exclusive: Iranians Had Showdown With U.S. Forces” in U.S. News (thanks to Doc Washburn):
As the British government demanded the immediate release of 15 of its sailors whose boats were seized by Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf on Friday, U.S. News has learned that this is not the first showdown that coalition forces have had with the Iranian military.
According to a U.S. Army report out of Iraq obtained by U.S. News, American troops, acting as advisers for Iraqi border guards, were recently surrounded and attacked by a larger unit of Iranian soldiers, well within the border of Iraq.
The report highlights the details: A platoon of Iranian soldiers on the Iraqi side of the border fired rocket-propelled grenades and used small arms against a joint patrol of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers east of Balad Ruz. Four Iraqi Army soldiers, one interpreter, and one Iraqi border policeman remain unaccounted for after the September incident in eastern Diyala, 75 miles east of Baghdad.
During a joint border patrol, both American and Iraqi soldiers saw two Iranian soldiers run from Iraq back across the Iranian border as they approached. The patrol then came upon a single Iranian soldier, on the Iraqi side of the border, who did not flee.
While the joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol was speaking with the soldier, according to the report, the patrol was “approached by a platoon-size element of Iranian soldiers.” An Iranian border captain then told the U.S. and Iraqi soldiers that “if they tried to leave their location, the Iranians would fire upon them.” During this conversation with the Iranian captain, Iranian forces began firing and continued when U.S. troops tried to withdraw.
Iraqi and American forces returned fire “to break contact and left the area to report the incident,” the report noted. “The Iranian forces continued to fire indirect fire well into Iraq as Coalition Force soldiers withdrew; for reasons unknown at this time, the Iraqi Army forces remained behind.”
No American soldiers were wounded in the incident.
It is possible that Iranians thought they were in Iranian territory, according to U.S. military officials. Such border confusions and disputes happen routinely.