Time: 10:13 a.m. CEST Update: 5:56 p.m. CEST
Ten United States sailors safely return to the U.S. after departing Iran, the U.S. Naval Force said on Wednesday with a statement released on social media.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry express his gratitude to Iran for releasing the sailors. “I thank Iran for quick sailor release,” Kerry said while delivering remarks on America’s foreign policy agenda for 2016 at the National Defense University. Kerry explained that Iran took care for all sailors. However, earlier the State Department spokesperson John Kirby denied, as he said in a tweet post, rumors that U.S. apologize to Iran.
“Absolutely zero truth that John Kerry apologize to Iran over sailors. Nothing to apologize for, ” Kirby wrote on the account @statedeptspox. Media published new released video that show a moment when Iran’s navy finds the sailors. There is no information about the destiny of the vessels in which the sailors entered into, as Iran says, into Iranian waters.
The 10 United States sailors that were held by Iran have been released, multiple news agencies are reporting on Wednesday after diplomatic efforts by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif on Tuesday. The United States is not confirming yet the release of sailors, but @abasino posted tweet with first pictures of the sailors laying on the carpeted floor in undefined location.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps says the ships entered unintentionally in the Iranian waters. “The evidence suggests that the vessels unintentionally entered the Iranian waters because of the failure of their navigational system,” IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif said on Iran’s Press TV. General director of foreign news at Iran’s Tasnim news agency tweeted that IRCG navy commander said the U.S. sailors will be released soon. But, PressTV reports that Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the IRGC Navy said “Mr.(Javed) Zarif adopted a strong and firm stance and declared that, ’they (the crew) were in our territorial waters and you must apologize.’”
A “broken navigation system” was what caused U.S. sailors to enter Iranian waters on Tuesday, Iran’s state-run Press TV reported on Wednesday. CNN reported on Wednesday that the U.S. officials have not confirmed the reason for two American naval ship to enter into Iranian waters, near Farsi Island.
Press TV reports, “Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the IRGC Navy, said on Wednesday that two US Navy crafts carrying 10 Marines had reached three miles into the waters surrounding the Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf, saying the IRGC forces took into custody the crew members of the vessels following the act of trespassing.” The 10 sailor are held on Farsi Island and are questioned, according to the Press TV.
The state-run IRNA news agency said the sailors are “healthy and will be treated well.” The sailors did not show resistance and will be released “as soon as the IRGC receives proper orders,” IRGC Navy Commander Admiral Ali Fadavi said on Iranian TV.
Secretary of State John Kerry entering the Capitol for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, said to CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday that he expected the sailors to be released “very soon,” but would not be more specific.
The vessels were en route from Kuwait to Bahrain and were sailing near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke with Kerry on the phone and said a boat had a mechanical problem and accidentally strayed, according to a senior administration official. Zarif assured Kerry the sailors were being treated well and would be released.
Iran says the sailors likely entered its waters accidentally and will likely be released soon