The United States said on Friday that the five Iranians who were detained by U.S.-led forces in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, had no official diplomatic status.
The "individuals, who were detained were not carrying diplomatic passports, had regular passports. And this was not a consulate. This was not an officially accredited diplomatic facility," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
The building where the five Iranians were arrested was a " building that the Iranians were using, occupying, that was Iraqi territory," McCormack said.
Failing to provide any more details, the spokesman insisted that the building "was not quote, unquote, the 'Iranian consulate. '"
Iran said U.S. forces raided the Iranian consulate in Iraq's northern city of Arbil and arrested five of its staff members. The Iranian Embassy in Baghdad sent a letter to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry Thursday to protest against "the U.S. illegal move" and called on the Iraqi government to help secure immediate release of the five people.
The United States has been accusing Iran of supporting attacks on American troops in Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday that the United States will not "stand idly by" if Iran tries to disrupt Washington's renewed effort to stabilize Iraq.