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Standoff Between Britain And Iran Heating Up

March 27, 2007

The standoff between Britain and Iran is heating up with Tony Blair issuing a warning if British troops aren't released.

It's the largest demonstration of U.S. military might in the Persian Gulf since the invasion of Iraq.

Two U.S. aircraft carriers and F-18 fighter jets simulated a series
of attacks off the coast of Iran.

Although the U.S. military insists there's no connection, it comes as
British Prime Minister Tony Blair warns Iran to hand over the 15 sailors
and marines or else.

"There is absolutely no justification whatever for holding them. I hope
we can manage to get them to realize they have to release them. If not,
then this will move into a different phase," said Blair.

A different phase than diplomacy. Britain insists its forces were operating well within Iraqi waters when they were captured by Iranian forces Friday. They say satellite coordinates prove it.

Iran has assured Britain that the sailors and marines are being treated
well, but British officials say that's not good enough and they're
demanding immediate access to them.

"We can see no reason why they should not have contact with people from the British government," said Margaret Beckett, British Foreign Secretary.

The only female to be captured, 26-year-old Faye Turney, spoke about
the risks of her mission the very night before she was captured.

"My parents made sure I was under no illusions that I could and can go to war at any time and that's the choice I made," said Turney.

But her duty in Iraq has thrust her and her captured colleagues onto a
frontline battle with Iran. As her government warns, the time for talk
is running out.

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