Iran returns US navy soldiers to freedom

The US Navy soldiers on vessels captured in Iranian water have been released according to Iranian media. The AP reports that both the US and Iran have confirmed the release of the 10 sailors who had been intercepted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and taken to Farsi Island, where they were kept and interrogated.

The Navy said the crew were “returned safely and there was no indications they had been harmed while in custody.”

Official photos of the detainees and the boats involved in the incident

Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent, stated that the US government believes one of the two boats involved in the incident could have experienced a mechanical failure leading it into Iranian territorial waters, with the other boat following it to not leave the soldiers behind.


According to the AP, Gen. Ali Fadavi, the navy chief of the IRGC, released the results of an investigation of the boats to have shown a “mechanical problems in their navigation system” on Iranian TV.

Yesterday evening the Pentagon released a statement that Iranian authorities have assured US officials that the soldiers and their boats would be freed to continue their journey from Kuwait to Bahrain. A senior defense official says that the US has “been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel […] We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey.”

Key facts, according to Harvard’s Belfer Center and CNN

  • Iran is a theocracy, with laws and regulations based on Islamic principles according to the constitution. It is led by its supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who also acts as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
  • The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), also knowns as Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, was formed after the 1979 revolution, and acts as the country’s premier security institution, distinct from Iran’s military. The Belfer Center asses the Guards as generally loyal to hard-line elements in the regime
  • Previously Iran has captured military boats, such as in 2004, when three British patrol boats were seized and held captive for three days, or in 2007 when British sailors and marines were kept for two weeks, held before then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and made to apologise