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Iran frees trespassing US sailors after Americans apologized

This photo shows US Marines whose boats were seized by the IRGC forces in the Persian Gulf after trespassing on Iran's territorial waters. ©Tasnim

The ten US Marines who had trespassed on Iran’s territorial waters and had been taken into Iranian custody have been released after Americans apologized for the incident.

The Public Relations Office of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced the release on Wednesday.

The statement read, “Following the illegal and unpermitted entry of two American Navy vessels into the Islamic Republic of Iran’s territorial waters near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf on the evening of the previous day, the vessels stopped, obeying a warning by IRGC vessels, and their crewmembers, who comprised nine male Marines and one female Marine, were placed under arrest.”

It added, “After technical and operational examinations done in interaction with the country’s relevant political and national security authorities and the establishment of the inadvertent and unintentional nature of the entry by the American Navy crafts and their apology, a decision was made to free them.”

The statement said the Americans had pledged not to repeat the mistake, adding, “...the arrested American Marines were released into international waters under IRGC Navy vessels’ watch.”

Meanwhile, an unidentified US official confirmed to the CNN that the 10 Marines had been released and boarded US missile cruiser, USS Anzio.

At the time of the impounding, the IRGC statement said, the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, which was present in nearby international waters, resorted to aerial and seaborne provocations, adding that the IRGC Navy subsequently acted perceptively and authoritatively, thus restoring control and calm to the area.

“The ardent fighters of the IRGC Navy will, as before, defend the Islamic Republic of Iran’s maritime sovereignty and borders across the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz,” the statement read.

Earlier in the day, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the IRGC Navy, had noted that the trespassing occurred because of technical problems with the navigation systems of the US vessels. He added that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had demanded an apology from the United States for the trespassing.

“Mr. Zarif adopted a strong and firm stance and declared that ‘they (the crew) were in our territorial waters and you must apologize,’” the IRGC commander said.

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