Iran releases 10 US sailors

Iran said early Wednesday that it had released 10 U.S. sailors that were detained on Tuesday “for crossing into Iranian territorial waters.”

A statement by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps said the sailors were taken to international waters and freed.

U.S. Navy Central Command said in a statement from Bahrain that there are no indications that the sailors were harmed.

"The Sailors departed Farsi Island at 8:43 a.m. (GMT), aboard the two Riverine Command Boats (RCB) that they had been operating when they lost contact with the U.S. Navy," the statement reads. "The Sailors were later transferred ashore by U.S. Navy aircraft, while other Sailors took charge of the RCBs and continued transiting toward Bahrain, the boats' original destination.

"The Navy will investigate the circumstances that led to the Sailors' presence in Iran."

ADVERTISEMENT
The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, as saying “what happened to American sailors on Tuesday proved how vulnerable the US is in front of powerful Iranian forces.”

Firouzabadi said the U.S. would be facing “yet another crisis now” if it weren’t for the “good intentions of the Iranian commanders,” IRNA added.

Iran said the U.S. Navy boats were stopped when they illegally entered Iranian waters near Farsi Island in the middle of the Persian Gulf.

Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryCutting corners in a federal campaign is criminal Navy investigation concludes Iran broke international law by detaining sailors Top Democrat wants Obama to block Boeing's deal with Iran MORE had been in discussion with Iranian officials, the State Department said, and on Wednesday expressed his “gratitude … for their cooperation ‎in swiftly resolving this matter.”

“That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong,” Kerry said in a statement.

Kerry's Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, said he was happy to see "dialog and respect" resolve the "episode."

The incident sparked a diplomatic crisis just before President Obama's last State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

Obama did not address the seizure of the sailors and two U.S. Navy boats during his speech but did tout the historic nuclear agreement reached with Tehran.

This report was last updated at 9:53 a.m.

Read more from The Hill:

US officials scramble after Iran takes custody of two Navy boats