Middle East | Iran frees 10 sailors after US 'apologizes' for naval incursion

Iran frees 10 sailors after US ‘apologizes’ for naval incursion

January 13, 2016 3:05 AM (UTC+8)

 

(From agencies)

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) released 10 American sailors who it had detained on Tuesday after they entered Iranian waters.

U.S. sailors at an undisclosed location in Iran in this handout picture released on Farsnews website on January 13
U.S. sailors at an undisclosed location in Iran in this handout picture released on Farsnews website on Jan. 13

Their release came shorty after the US apologized to Iran for the naval incursion on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s incident rattled nerves days ahead of the expected implementation of a landmark nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers.

General Ali Fadavi said investigations concluded “that this trespassing was not hostile or for spying purposes.”

He said a broken navigation system had led the US sailors — reportedly nine men and a woman — to stray toward Iran’s Farsi island.

“Naturally in territorial waters of the country any naval craft should announce their presence beforehand, especially if they are military,” Fadavi added.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was briefed about the incident.

Earlier, IRGC officials said US should not consider Iran’s national interests as joke.

The IRGC seized two US Navy boats Tuesday and detained them on Iran’s Farsi Island.

Each of the two US Navy boats, which were 2 km deep into the Iranian waters when captured by the IRGC Navy’s second naval zone, was equipped with three 50mm caliber machine guns and other light and semi-heavy weapons.

“The incident happened yesterday (Tuesday) and the US vessels had trespassed Iran’s territorial waters,” IRGC Spokesman General Ramezan Sharif said Wednesday.

“After violating Iran’s sea border, the IRGC navy arrived at the scene powerfully and warned the two US vessels and they complied with the warning,” he added.

The General reiterated that there had been “no clashes in the Persian Gulf” during this incident, adding that the two US vessels and the 10 marines were carrying light and semi-heavy weapons.

Responding to remarks made by a number of US officials about the immediate release of the captured vessels and the marines, he said:  “Definitely, Iran never jokes with anyone about its national interests and won’t show any ignorance either. They should rest assured that our behavior will be based on Islamic kindness.”

“If investigations show that there hasn’t been any purposeful action, they will be treated differently, but if the information taken through interrogations reveal that their trespassing has been done for intelligence work and irrelevant jobs, officials will definitely take the necessary actions,” the spokesman warned.

IRGC officials said the coordinates recorded on the GPS devices taken from the 10 US marines confirm their trespassing as well.

Following the capture, two US and French aircraft carriers and military choppers started maneuvering near Iranian waters, but left the scene after 40 minutes.

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