10 U.S. sailors taken into custody by Iran expected to be released soon

WASHINGTON — Ten U.S. Navy sailors taken into custody by Iran after their two small boats drifted into Iranian waters were expected to be released as early as Wednesday morning local time.

See Full Article

American officials have said Tehran assured them that the crew and vessels would be returned safely and promptly. Meanwhile, the Navy chief of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard said Wednesday that the American boats showed "unprofessional acts" for 40 minutes before being picked up by Iranian forces after entering the country's territorial waters.

The navy chief, Gen. Ali Fadavi confirmed on state TV Wednesday that the Guard was holding the crew and their two small boats. The detainees included nine men and one woman, who were being held overnight at an Iranian base on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. They were expected to be transferred Wednesday to a U.S. ship in the region.

Referring to the two small boats that had into Iranian waters after experiencing mechanical problems, Fadavi also said the Guard will carry out orders from the country's top leadership over the case, suggesting the Americans could be freed soon.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told The Associated Press 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 in the middle of the Gulf. They said some type of mechanical trouble with one of the boats caused them to drift into Iranian territorial waters near the island, and they were picked up by Iran.

The semi-official Iranian news agency, FARS, said earlier that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's navy had detained 10 foreign forces, believed to be Americans, and said the sailors were trespassing in Iranian waters.

"We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly," Cook said late Tuesday, U.S. time.

The incident came amid heightened tensions with Iran, and only hours before President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address to Congress and the public. It set off a dramatic series of calls and meetings as U.S. officials tried to determine the exact status of the crew and reach out to Iranian leaders.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who forged a personal relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif through three years of nuclear negotiations, called Zarif immediately on learning of the incident, according to a senior U.S. official. Kerry "personally engaged with Zarif on this issue to try to get to this outcome," the official said.

Kerry learned of the incident around 12:30 p.m. EST as he and Defense Secretary Ash Carter were meeting their Filipino counterparts at the State Department, the official said.

Officials said the sailors were part of Riverine Squadron 1 based in San Diego and were deployed to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain. When the U.S. lost contact with the boats, ships attached to the USS Harry S Truman aircraft carrier strike group began searching the area, along with aircraft flying off the Truman.

Officials said a radio signal from one of the boats showed that they were on Farsi Island, setting off efforts to contact the Iranians. The Riverine boats were not part of the carrier strike group, and were on a training mission as they traveled between Kuwait and Bahrain, officials said.

The Riverine boats are not considered high-tech and don't contain any sensitive equipment, so there were no concerns about the Iranians gaining access to the crafts.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the sensitive incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The incident came on the heels of an incident in late December when Iran launched a rocket test near U.S. warships and boats passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Meanwhile, Iran was expected to satisfy the terms of last summer's nuclear deal in just days. Once the U.N. nuclear agency confirms Iran's actions to roll back its program, the United States and other Western powers are obliged to suspend wide-ranging oil, trade and financial sanctions on Tehran. Kerry recently said the deal's implementation was "days away."

-----

Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Richard Lardner in Washington and Nasser Karimi and Ali Akbar in Tehran contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Thousands flee wildfire near Yosemite National Park

    World News CTV News
    MARIPOSA, Calif. -- A blaze burning in foothills west of Yosemite National Park destroyed dozens of structures and forced thousands to flee Gold Rush-era towns but fire crews have been able to stop it from reaching a threatened community on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Source
  • Trump reportedly ending CIA plan to arm Syrian rebels

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to halt the CIA's years-long covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the regime of the nation's president Bashar al-Assad. Russia had long pushed the United States to end the program. Source
  • Thai general among dozens convicted of human trafficking

    World News CBC News
    A Thai army general was one of dozens of people convicted in a major human trafficking trial that included 103 defendants accused of involvement in a modern-day slavery trade. Lt.-Gen. Manas Kongpaen was convicted of several offences Wednesday involving trafficking and taking bribes in the case involving migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Source
  • 8th right whale found dead in Gulf of St. Lawrence, 1 more entangled

    Canada News CBC News
    An eighth North Atlantic right whale has been found dead and another is entangled in fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Marine Animal Response Society said in a Facebook post. In the past two months, seven other right whales have been found dead in the the Gulf of St. Source
  • 'Get out there, get 'er done and, of course, be safe': Tiny Riske Creek, B.C., fights the fire

    Canada News CBC News
    In the tiny central B.C. community of Riske Creek, logging and ranching are a way of life, but in recent days, many of the 90 or so residents have found themselves on the front line of one of the largest fires in the province. Source
  • Ship that may have sunk admiral's career to be unveiled in Quebec

    Canada News CBC News
    The ship that may have cost the military's second-in-command his career will be formally unveiled in an elaborate ceremony Thursday at Quebec's Chantier Davie Shipyard. The MV Asterix will serve as a temporary naval supply ship, starting early in the new year, after it goes through a series of shakedown trials. Source
  • Supreme Court building to get $1B rehab in 2023, well after systems risk failure

    Canada News CBC News
    The Liberal government has launched a $1-billion project to rehabilitate the crumbling Supreme Court building, though key systems are at risk of failure long before any repairs begin. A water-damaged section of the parking garage roof could collapse by the end of next year, and mechanical and electrical systems are predicted to fail by 2020 and 2021, says an internal document obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act. Source
  • Midnight in an Istanbul park: Syrian children play in the shadow of war

    World News CBC News
    It's nearing midnight in a dimly lit park in Istanbul, not far from the sea, and eight-year-old Kais is scooting around on his new bike. He's joined by a dozen other Syrian boys and girls, scampering on the slides and laughing on the swings under a full moon. Source
  • Trump's 'influential' pick for ambassador to Canada faces Senate hearing

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump's pick for the next ambassador to Canada, a deep-pocketed Republican donor with influential allies in Congress and family ties with a Kentucky coal empire, faces her Senate confirmation hearing Thursday. Kelly Knight Craft will testify before the Senate committee on foreign relations in a joint session with Trump's nominees for ambassador to NATO and the U.K. Source
  • Members of Trump's inner circle to face Senate committees

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - Members of the Trump campaign's inner circle, including his eldest son and son-in-law, are being called before Senate committees next week to talk about the 2016 election. The week has the potential to deliver the most high-profile congressional testimony involving the Russian meddling probes since former FBI Director James Comey appeared in June. Source