A top Iranian general boasted Saturday that US sailors briefly held by the Islamic republic earlier this week were “crying” as they were taken in by his nation’s naval forces.
Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), made the gloating remarks on the day that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was meeting his US counterpart John Kerry to finalize the lifting of nuclear sanctions on Iran.
Salami said “the marines were crying when they were being captured, but they later felt better after the IRGC forces treated them with kindness.”
The comments were reported by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.
Tehran released the 10 sailors on Wednesday, a day after it seized their two small ships when they drifted into Iranian-controlled waters. The incident set off a flurry of phone calls between Kerry and Zarif to secure the servicemen’s release.
“The Americans humbly admitted our might and power, and we freed the marines after being assured that they had entered the Iranian waters unintentionally and we even returned their weapons,” Salami also said.
Iran has repeatedly claimed the US apologized for the incident, though Washington has denied such claims.
On Wednesday the IRGC’s naval commander said his forces had their missiles locked on a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf as the incident unfolded, and were awaiting orders to fire.
General Ali Fadavi scoffed at the “unprofessional behavior” of the US fleet during the crisis, warned that Iran could have inflicted an unprecedented “catastrophe” upon the US forces, and bragged that the US would never prevail in a confrontation with Iran in the Gulf.
“The USS Truman Aircraft carrier showed unprofessional moves for 40 minutes after the detention of the trespassers,” and Iran was ready to strike at it, Fadavi said, according to Fars news.
“We were highly prepared with our coast-to-sea missiles, missile-launching speedboats and our numerous capabilities,” Fadavi said, according to Fars.
“The US and France’s aircraft carriers were within our range and if they had continued their unprofessional moves, they would have been afflicted with such a catastrophe that they had never experienced all throughout the history,” the IRGC commander warned, according to Fars. “They could have been shot, and if they were, they would have been destroyed.”
Fadavi warned, according to Fars, that the US and its navy “won’t be the winner of any battle with Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as destruction and sinking of their warships will be the end result of any such war.”
Kerry thanked Iran Wednesday for resolving the dispute “peacefully and efficiently.”
“I want to express my gratitude to the Iranian authorities for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter,” Kerry said in a statement.
“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 added.
Iran has since released photos and video of the American’s apparently surrendering on their knees, as well as in custody in an Iranian base.
Kerry and Zarif were in Vienna Saturday along with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, where nuclear sanctions on Tehran were expected to be lifted when the International Atomic Energy Agency announces that Iran has met its obligations under last July’s landmark agreement with world powers.