2 Navy boats, 10 sailors held by Iran will be returned
WASHINGTON – Iranian military forces are holding 10 American sailors and two small Navy boats that apparently strayed into Iranian waters, U.S. officials said Tuesday, but Tehran has pledged to release them shortly, Los Angeles Times reported.
The Americans were on a training mission in the Persian Gulf when the riverine boats experienced “a navigational or mechanical difficulty” and appear to have drifted into Iranian waters, according to the Pentagon. Iranian Coast Guard boats brought the vessels to a Revolutionary Guard base on Farsi Island, officials said.
U.S. officials said they believe that craft steered off course and that the crew was aided, not captured, by Iranian forces.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything malicious at work on either side,” according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal assessment.
The Navy crew members are safe and are expected to be released promptly, Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said on CNN.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry has spoken by phone with Iranian officials in Tehran to gain their release. Ben Rhodes, a senior aide to President Obama, indicated that the situation was still fluid.