Iran's Supreme Leader Awards Medals to Troops Who Captured US Sailors
Iran's supreme leader has awarded medals to five members of the Iranian Navy whom he said "captured intruding" U.S. Navy sailors during a tense incident last month.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei awarded the Order of Fat'h medal to Admiral Ali Fadavi, the head of the navy of the Revolutionary Guards, and four commanders who seized the two U.S. Navy vessels, according to Reuters. Iran's state media reported the news on Sunday.
In a tweet sent from his account Sunday, Khamenei misidentified those who were "captured" as being members of the Marines.
On Jan. 12, Iran captured the 10 sailors whose boats "misnavigated" into Iranian waters, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Though the sailors were released the following day, Iran released video of the sailors being captured, detained and apologizing for the incursion.
Though Iran initially accused the sailors of spying, Fadavi later said an investigation had established the sailors were led astray by "a broken navigation system" and the trespassing was "not hostile or for spying purposes."
The sailors were attempting to navigate from Kuwait to Bahrain when they crossed into Iranian waters.
In one of the more enduring images from the video of the capture, the sailors are shown kneeling on the decks of the boats, with their hands on their heads, all while being watched by armed Iranian troops. Though U.S. officials initially sought to downplay the encounter, Carter recently said the images made him "very, very angry."
The Order of Fat'h has been given to Iranian war heroes, military commanders and politicians, especially those involved in the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted between 1980 and 1988.
Khamenei has said that Iran should remain wary of the U.S., even after the two enemies reached a deal on the future of Iran's nuclear program last summer.
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