Iran Frees 10 Detained U.S. Navy Sailors - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iran Frees 10 Detained U.S. Navy Sailors

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(NBC) -

Ten U.S. sailors detained in Iran have been released, Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Wednesday.

The sailors — nine men and one woman — were held overnight Iran's Farsi Island. They were taken into custody Tuesday when their two small U.S. navy riverine vessels drifted into Iranian-claimed waters during a training mission.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards said in a statement read aloud on state TV that the sailors had been released back into international waters following a U.S. apology and clarifications that any incursion was unintentional.

There was no immediate response or confirmation from U.S. officials on the move, which came after Iran's navy chief said he didn't believe "harmful" moves were at play when the boats entered Iranian waters.

U.S. officials had sprung into action on Tuesday to address the incident, Secretary of State John Kerry calling his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in hopes of securing the sailors' release.

Iran's navy chief Gen. Ali Fadavi said early Wednesday that an investigation showed the American vessels had entered his country's waters due to a mechanical issue — which jibed with what U.S. officials had suggested.

"It was not for espionage or other harmful purposes," he said on state-run TV.

Fadavi earlier had said that the sailors demonstrated "unprofessional" behavior and that Iran was demanding an apology from Kerry, but backed off that allegation in his latest remarks.

 Iran's Detainment of U.S. Sailors Comes at Critical Time for Nuclear Deal 1:13

Still, he defended the decision to take the sailors into custody as "necessary measures" given the presence of U.S. forces in the region.

American naval ships routinely navigate the waters of the Persian Gulf near Iranian territory, and their presence there frequently has been a source of tensions between the two nations.

Senior U.S. military commanders criticized Iran last month for its "highly provocative" actions when it fired unguided rockets near U.S. ships, including the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, in the Strait of Hormuz.

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