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IRGC ‘made history’: Iran remembers 2016 capture of intruding US ships

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An image, released by the IRGC in January 2016, shows the US Navy sailors on their knees with their hands clasped behind their heads as they were being apprehended by the IRGC Navy on their vessels.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy’s capture of two American navy ships in the Persian Gulf, where US Navy sailors were forced to kneel down before Iranian naval forces after trespassing into Iranian territorial waters.

Marking the occasion, a commander of the IRGC, said on Wednesday that after the capture, the IRGC Navy warned American ships that they would be targeted if they came forward.

“The sailors of the second naval zone of the IRGC warned them sternly that ‘we will hit you if you enter the territorial water of the Farsi Island,' and every time these warnings were issued, they would cause them (American ships) to retreat,” Ramezan Zirahi recalled.

He said the IRGC’s sailors were not after war, but were merely doing their duty of defending the Islamic homeland.

Pointing to the IRGC Navy’s readiness along the country’s Persian Gulf coasts, the commander said, “If the Americans had made a mistake, a hell of fire would have been ignited for them.”

On January 12, 2016, two US Navy crafts, carrying 10 Marines, were intercepted by the IRGC Navy after they entered Iranian territorial waters near Iran’s Farsi Island.

Initially, the US military claimed the sailors inadvertently entered Iranian waters owing to mechanical failure, but Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the then-commander of the IRGC Navy, said later that the incident occurred because of technical problems with the navigation systems of the US vessels.

The IRGC released the sailors a day later, saying in a statement that “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 apologized and pledged not to repeat the mistake, adding, “The arrested American Marines were released into international waters under IRGC Navy vessels’ watch.”

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Iranian authorities at the time for their cooperation in the release of US Navy sailors.

Later, Iran released a series of images and videos that, among other things, showed the US Navy sailors on their knees with their hands clasped behind their heads as they were being apprehended on their vessels.

Zirahi said the forces of the IRGC Navy made history as they captured the “arrogant sailors of the Great Satan.”

“An hour after the encounter with the Americans, they entered the Farsi Island’s waters with aircraft carriers and warships while in confusion and excitement and out of the control of their marines,” the commander recollected.

“Their warship warned nervously and angrily, so that they could achieve their goals through psychological pressure,” he said. “But the IRGC Navy managed the battlefield with authority.”

Zirahi further said the Americans realized after the encounter that Iran was not kidding.

At the current juncture, he continued, the military capability of the Islamic Republic is not comparable even to the previous year.

He also said the Islamic Republic is not after tensions and instability in the region at all, but warned that any stupid action will be met with a decisive response on part of the Iranian Armed Forces.

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