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Iran releases US sailors detained in Gulf

Ten American sailors have been released after overnight detention by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Their two ships drifted into Iranian territory in the Persian Gulf.

A few hours after the top ranking naval official in Iran's Revolutionary Guard announced the soldiers would likely be released on Wednesday, Admiral Ali Fadavi followed through on his promise and released the soldiers after receiving orders to do so from Tehran.

"It was determined that the detained American Marines did not enter Iranian waters intentionally. Following their apology, they have been released to international waters in the Gulf," read a statement from the Revuolutionary Guard carried on Iranian state TV.

The ten soldiers – nine men and one woman – were being held by the Revolutionary Guard on Farsi Island. The boats were believed to be crossing the Gulf between Kuwait and Bahrain when US officials lost contact with them.

The announcement was soon followed by publication of the first images of the detained sailors sitting in a room on Persian rugs.

US Secretary of State John Kerry had been in contact with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif over the incident. There was little risk of the incident spiraling out of control, but Iran was critical of the actions taken by the US vessels before they were apprehended.

"Naturally in territorial waters of the country any naval craft should announce their presence beforehand, especially if they are military," Fadavi said.

Fadavi also said Zarif had taken a strong stance with Kerry and asked him to apologize for the violation of Iranian territorial waters.

mz/rc (AFP, AP)

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