The New York Times reports April 5 that US officials are reviewing an informal request from Tehran for an envoy to visit five Iranians who were imprisoned after a US raid in northern Iraq in January. Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV told at a news conference that the request is “being assessed at this time.”
The five Iranians imprisoned by the US were among six people detained in a Jan. 11 raid in Erbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdish region. US attack helicopters and armored vehicles backed up the soldiers in the raid, and 200 Kurdish fighters surrounded the US forces in a tense standoff before letting them leave with their prisoners. One of the detainees was released that day.
Iranian officials assert that the men are diplomats. Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s Kurdish foreign minister, told the Times that while the men are not officially diplomats, they had been acting as liaisons to Iraq.