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The Iranian Embassy siege took place from 30 April to , after a group of six armed men stormed the Iranian embassy in South Kensington, London.The gunmen took 26 people hostage—mostly embassy staff, but several visitors and a police officer, who had been guarding the embassy, were also held.The SAS was quickly overwhelmed by the number of applications it received from people inspired by the operation and, at the same time, experienced greater demand for its expertise from foreign governments.The hostage-takers and their cause were largely forgotten after the Iran–Iraq War broke out later that year and the hostage crisis in Tehran continued until January 1981.Nonetheless, the operation brought the SAS to the public eye for the first time and bolstered the reputation of Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister.That evening, they killed one of the hostages and threw his body out of the embassy.As a result, the British government ordered the Special Air Service (SAS), a special forces regiment of the British Army, to conduct an assault to rescue the remaining hostages.Shortly afterwards, soldiers abseiled from the roof of the building and forced entry through the windows.
Over the following days, police negotiators secured the release of five hostages in exchange for minor concessions, such as the broadcasting of the hostage-takers' demands on British television.By the sixth day of the siege the gunmen had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress in meeting their demands.The hostage-takers, members of an Iranian Arab group campaigning for Arab national sovereignty in the southern region of Khūzestān Province, demanded the release of Arab prisoners from jails in Khūzestān and their own safe passage out of the United Kingdom.The British government quickly resolved that safe passage would not be granted, and a siege ensued.
The soldiers subsequently faced accusations that they unnecessarily killed two of the terrorists, but an inquest into the deaths eventually cleared the SAS of any wrongdoing.
The remaining terrorist was prosecuted and served 27 years in British prisons.