The United Nations has informed the Security Council that armed U.S. Marines have repeatedly breached a U.N.-monitored demilitarized zone along the Kuwait-Iraq border, potentially violating a 1991 resolution ending the Persian Gulf War.

U.N. peacekeepers monitoring the border "reported numerous violations of the demilitarized zone" since Tuesday by individuals in civilian dress and driving four-by-four vehicles, said chief U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard. He said some of the individuals "were armed and identified themselves as U.S. Marines."

The U.N. force also reported seeing three spots that had been cut along an electric fence erected near the Iraqi border by Kuwait. The United Nations raised the matter with the Kuwaiti government and asked to be informed of similar activities.

A Kuwaiti official said the United Nations has no right to report any activities to the council beyond the fact of an armed incursion of the demilitarized zone. "Whether or not we cut or move a fence is nobody's business," the official said.

It remained unclear whether the alleged activities were part of preparations for a U.S. incursion into Iraq. But the council notification raised questions about whether a U.S.-led invasion through the demilitarized zone would violate a Security Council resolution.

An official at the U.S. mission to the United Nations declined to comment.

-- Colum Lynch