Saudi Arabia says 3 Iranian boats chased away from its waters
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Saudi Arabia says 3 Iranian boats chased away from its waters

Ships retreated after warning shots fired in Thursday incident, Riyadh says, amid high tensions with Shiite rival

Illustrative: Two Iranian warships approach Iran's southeastern port city of Chahbahar, in the Gulf of Oman, December 27, 2019. (Iranian Army via AP)
Illustrative: Two Iranian warships approach Iran's southeastern port city of Chahbahar, in the Gulf of Oman, December 27, 2019. (Iranian Army via AP)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia said Saturday three Iranian boats were “forced to retreat” from its waters after warning shots were fired, according to state media.

“At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday… the coastguard spotted three Iranian boats after they entered Saudi waters,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ships “refused to respond” to repeated warnings, after which “warning shots were fired… forcing them to retreat,” it added.

The report did not identify what kind of ships they were.

Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia terminated diplomatic relations with Shiite-dominated Iran following 2016 attacks by protesters on its missions in Iran after Riyadh executed revered Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, has been at odds with Iran since the Islamic revolution of 1979 ushered in a Shiite theocracy and set the two countries on a collision course.

They today stand on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East, from Syria to Yemen.

Tensions have risen in the last year after a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations, incidents that roiled global energy markets last year.

Both the United States and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind those attacks, a charge denied by Tehran.

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