AMARA, Iraq — Iranian troops who for three days controversially occupied a disputed border oil well left the facility during the night but remain on Iraqi soil, Iraq's government spokesman said Sunday.
"The Iranian forces have pulled back 50 metres from the well and have taken their flag but we now demand they return to where they have come from and that negotiations begin on the demarcation of the border," said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.
The facility, known as Well 4, lies in disputed territory about 100 metres (yards) from the Iranian border, according to Iraqi officials. Iran says the well falls within its borders.
Earlier, Mayssam Lafta, chief of security and defence of Iraq's Maysan province where the well is situated, said the Iranian troops had departed from the facility.
"The Iranian troops left overnight and the workers of the oil company returned to the well on Sunday," he said.
On Friday, Iraq's state-owned South Oil Co in the southeastern city of Amara, capital of Maysan province, said that about a dozen Iranian troops and technicians had arrived at the field, taken control of the Well 4 and raised the Iranian flag.
It was the first serious incident between the two neighbours since the US-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein, whose forces fought a 1980-1988 war against Iran.
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