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Iran Captures 10 American Navy Sailors and Their Boats.

By, VOA News and

Iran is holding 10 U.S. Navy sailors and their two small Navy boats after the boats had mechanical problems and drifted into Iranian waters, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. American officials said, however, they have received assurances from Tehran that they will be returned safely and promptly.

A senior U.S. defense official told VOA Tuesday there are 10 total U.S. sailors - nine men and one woman - on the two boats. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told AP that the riverine boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain when the U.S. lost contact with them. U.S. officials said that the incident happened near Farsi Island, situated in the Persian Gulf. They said that some type of mechanical trouble with one of the boats caused them to run aground and they were picked up by Iran. Bahrain and Kuwait are located on the western end of the Persian Gulf, across the waters from Iran.

According to AP, Iran's semiofficial news agency Fars said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's navy has detained 10 foreign forces, believed to be Americans, and said the sailors were trespassing in Iranian waters. VOA's Persian Service says that the Iranian news service reported that crewmembers have been "arrested."

Farsi Island is home to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps naval base, which may be why the sailors were quickly detained, Matthew Kroenig, a senior fellow in The Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, told VOA Tuesday. "Most countries would do the same thing if foreign sailors came that close to a naval base," Kroenig explained.

Tuesday's incident follows an incident in late December when the Iranian navy test fired several rockets near three Western warships, including the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, near the Strait of Hormuz. Iran later denied that its navy launched rockets next to American warships, but footage later released by the American Navy proved that the incident did indeed take place.

American naval vessels have frequently been the target of Iranian provocations. In 2014, Iran broadcast a simulation of its forces the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on state television.

In February, the IRGC's naval military training exercises including the sinking of a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. The exercises were also broadcast on state television, accompanied by banner text of a quote by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic: "If the Americans are ready to be buried at the bottom of the waters of the Persian Gulf -- so be it." And in March, an Iranian surveillance aircraft came unusually close to a Navy helicopter from the USS Carl Vinson.

Iran has also frequently challenged America's commitment to protecting global shipping in the Persian Gulf.In April, Iran seized the Marshall Islands-flagged ship Maersk Tigris, holding it for ten days in violation of international law. In May, an Iranian ship fired on a Singapore-flagged ship.

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Publication:Israel Faxx
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jan 13, 2015
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