via Daily Mail: Five navy commanders who detained ten American sailors earlier this month have been awarded medals by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
A diplomatic crisis was narrowly avoided after two US Navy patrol boats crossed into Iran’s waters from Kuwait to Bahrain on January 12.
The sailors were released a day later after being held on Farsi Island in the Gulf after it was established the trespassing was not ‘hostile or for spying purposes’.
Despite this, Mr Kamenei awarded the Fath (Victory) medal to Admiral Ali Fadavi, the head of the Guard’s navy, and the four commanders said that Iran should remain wary of America despite their recent nuclear deal, Reuters reported.
The medal has previously been awarded to war heroes, politicians and military commanders.
While Mr Fadavi had initially accused the sailors – nine men and one woman – of spying, an investigation later established that the US personnel were led astray by a ‘broken navigation system’.
US military criticized the move, calling it ‘abnormal and unprofessional’.
Last year, Iranian patrol boats seized the Maersk Tigris, a cargo ship sailing under the Marshall Islands flag, which meant it was under US protection.
And in March 2007, Iranian patrols captured 15 British Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel, interrogated them and held them for 13 days before releasing them.
The US and European nations lifted oil and financial sanctions on Iran and released roughly $100 billion of its assets on January 16 after international inspectors found that the country had followed through with its promise to dismantle large parts of its nuclear program.