The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps issued a statement on Wednesday saying that “it has released the US marines and their vessels in international waters” after its investigations showed that they had gone astray during their voyage in the Persian Gulf.
In its statement, the IRGC pointed out that its investigations show that the US combat vessels’ illegal entry into the Iranian waters was not the result of a purposeful act.
“Following technical and operational investigations and in interaction with relevant political and national security bodies of the country and after it became clear that the US combat vessels’ illegal entry into the Islamic Republic of Iran’s waters was the result of an unintentional action and a mistake and after they extended an apology, the decision was made to release them,” the statement said.
“The Americans have undertaken not to repeat such mistakes,” it added, and continued, “The captured marines were released in international waters under the supervision of the IRGC Navy moments ago.”
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps seized two US Navy boats on Tuesday and detained them on Iran’s Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. Nine men and one woman trespassed Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf when they were captured by the IRGC Navy.
The US combat vessel seized by the IRGC after trespassing on Iran’s territorial waters
Each of the two US Navy boats that were 3 nautical miles deep into the Iranian waters when they were captured by the IRGC Navy’s second naval zone were equipped with three 50mm caliber machine guns and other light and semi-heavy weapons.
IRGC officials said the coordinates recorded on the GPS devices taken from the 10 US marines confirmed their trespassing as well.
Following the capture, two US and French aircraft carriers as well as their accompanying fleets and military choppers started maneuvering near Iranian waters.
The IRGC statement blamed the US flotilla for its “excited and unprofessional moves”, but said the IRGC navy could handle the situation and restored calm to the region through powerful and wise moves.
Senior US officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, were in contact with their Iranian counterparts on the fate of the marines since Tuesday, and according to Iranian officials, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had told Kerry that the US should extend a formal apology first.
According to the statement, the Americans have extended an apology.
US marines arrested by Iran’s IRGC Navy in Persian Gulf
IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi had announced earlier on Wednesday that the 10 US marines would likely be released as early investigation results showed technical fault in their navigation systems.
“Investigations show that the two US Navy boats had trespassed into Iran’s territorial waters because of technical faults in their navigation systems and the issue is being resolved,” Admiral Fadavi said Wednesday morning, explaining about the latest situation of the US marines.
US marines in detention
Two small US craft in the Persian Gulf were taken in custody by Iran after they appeared in Iranian waters. The crews are to be released shortly, according to various US officials.
“We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly,”Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told AP.
The crews, which total 10 Navy sailors, are being held at Farsi Island, a highly restricted island between Bahrain and Kuwait, where Iran has a naval base. US officials are saying it is unclear how the crew members ended up in Iranian waters, though Secretary of State John Kerry has kept phone contact with Iranian officials in Tehran, urging for a release. A senior official told NBC News the Iranians understand a mistake was made and have agreed to a release to come in hours.
“US officials have been in touch with the Iranians about this situation. This is obviously a situation we are monitoring closely. We’ve received assurances from the Iranians both that our sailors are safe, that they’re being afforded the proper courtesy that you’d expect, and we’ve also most importantly received assurances that they’ll be allowed to consider their journey promptly.”
This incident follows recent problematic episodes for the two countries as the US prepares to lift sanctions on Iran as an international agreement to curtail its civilian nuclear program is implemented.