- Footage of sailors on the floor, with hands behind their heads surrounded by Iranian guards has been released
- It was aired on the Islamic republic's state television after the Navy personnel were freed following a standoff
- When the sailors were taken off of the boats in the Persian Gulf, they were questioned by the IRGC
- Later the captives were pictured looking relaxed while sitting on a big carpet sharing plats of food and water
- One of the sailors was filmed apologizing for their unit's 'mistake' and praised the Iranians 'fantastic' behavior
- A female sailor with the group was given a makeshift head scarf to wear while they enjoyed meal
- Reports by state media inside Iran stated the U.S. issued a grovelling apology before the sailors were freed
- However John Kerry's spokesman said there is 'zero truth' to reports the Secretary of State said sorry
Dramatic footage has emerged of the 10 American sailors accused of 'snooping' surrendering to Iran's revolutionary guard and being taken into custody 16 hours before they released.
Video which aired on the Islamic republic's state television shows the U.S Navy personnel kneeling with their hands behind their heads, as armed coast guard officials surround them.
They remained motionless as they waited to be taken into custody on Farsi Island - an area of land in the Persian Gulf shut off to the public for secret government activities.
The tense diplomatic standoff took place just days before the terms of the nuclear deal are set to be activated - meaning Iran is set to received $billion in funds that were restricted by the U.S. under the sanctions.
After they were escorted off the boats, the nine men and one woman were interrogated for hours by the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (IRGC) before they were released.
Wearing combat fatigues and no shoes, the sailors were then pictured sitting on a carpet inside a bare room. They shared plates of food and bottles of water as they chatted to Iranian officials.
A female sailor was also seen wearing a makeshift veil she was given by the captors to cover her head. One sailor, said to be a U.S. commander, was recorded making an apology to the Iranian forces - insisting they strayed into their territory by mistake - and said their behavior towards them was 'fantastic'.
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This is the dramatic moment 10 American sailors accused of 'snooping' surrendered to Iranian troops
Footage shown on the Islamic republic's state television shows the U.S soldiers kneeling and with their hands behind their heads, as armed coast guard officials surround them
A woman, who was later forced to wear a headscarf in custody, is seen with her back turned to the camera on the vessel. The standoff was has been described as a diplomatic blunder by critics
A group of the sailors are seen enjoying food they were given during their time in Iranian custody. Pentagon officials confirmed none of them were harmed
Vieo also emerged of one a US commander purportedly apologizing for their 'mistake' before thanking their Iranian captors for their 'fantastic' behavior and hospitality
The commander who said sorry in the video, and has not been identified, smiles as he drinks from a juice box. He said the 'behavior' of the Iranians towards the captured sailors was fantastic
They all sat down in their combat fatigues to have the meal as Pentagon officials negotiated their release
Two Iranian men come in and join the nine American men in the room. The female sailor appears to have been escorted out of the room because of the two IRGC guards .
The unidentified sailor apologized for mistakenly travelling into Iranian waters - contradicting claims the U.S. were forced to say sorry.
'It was a mistake. That was our fault. And we apologize for our mistake,' the sailor said, in a brief state TV clip posted on Twitter by a journalist with Iran's Tasnim News Agency.
His comment was in response to a man holding a microphone, who asked in English, 'How was the Iranian behavior with you?'
The sailor was also asked if they had a 'special problem.' The sailor responded, 'We had no problem, sir.'
Reports from Iran suggest the Pentagon was forced to make a grovelling apology in a bid to get the sailors released, admitting they had traveled into sovereign waters by mistake - just days before the controversial nuclear agreement is set to go into force.
But John Kerry's spokesman John Kirby insisted the Secretary of State did not say sorry to his Iranian counterparts - because there was 'nothing to apologize for'.
Vice President Joe Biden also backed him up, telling CBS' This Morning: 'There's no apology and there's nothing to apologize for. When you have a problem with the boat do you apologize to the boat having a problems? And there is no looking for any apology. This was just standard nautical practice.'
State Department spokesman Mark Toner also said the comments were not 'an official government apology.'
'I don't think there's necessarily a need for any kind of apology here. It was handled professionally — at least our initial assessments are — professionally by both sides,' he said.
During a press briefing today he said: 'There was no official U.S. apology given to the Iranians. I think that's been a little bit of a canard, or whatever, out there in the press this morning, that there was the impression given that there was some kind of apology. Categorically, there was not. '
He was then asked by a reporter about the video of the soldier saying sorry. 'Exactly. Precisely. Precisely. But that was not an official, but not an official U.S. government apology.'
'We've seen no indications thus far that they were mistreated during their period of detention. In fact it was our understanding that they were given blankets, a place to sleep, as well as fed. That said … of course, you know there's going to be a period of debriefing these sailors. That's ongoing. … Our initial assessment is that they were treated humanely.'
'Secretary Kerry was, as many of you know, very quick to respond to Iran, to his counterpart, give the details of what we knew the situation to be. And I think it was simply, again according to what we know about this, "an accident", a mechanical malfunction. I think it was handled diplomatically, which is always the ideal way – certainly we here at the State Department believe that – but I don't think there's necessarily a need for any kind of apology here.'
'This was handled professionally – at least, and again, in our initial assessments – professionally by both sides.'
Members of the IRGC lay out the weapons they seized from the vessel in front of the camera
Soldiers hold up ammunition taken off the two boats during the standoff. It was a flash point in recent confrontations in the area
The Iranian guards also opened a box of munitions and showed them off for the footage which was aired on state television
A video shot by a member of the Iranian forces shows the moment the units from each country came into contact in the Persian Gulf
Iranian state media showed the two American Navy boats lined up alongside each other
John Kerry (pictured at the National Defense University on Wednesday) said he was glad the incident was resolved quickly. His spokesman John Kirby insisted the Secretary of State did not say sorry to his Iranian counterparts - because there was 'nothing to apologize for'.
'We would take appropriate action if our assessment changed … we are still in the process of gathering information. Our initial impression is that they were well-treated.'
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration decided against including the incident in the State of the Union as they didn't want to 'elevate the situation further'.
'I think the outcome, which is the release of the sailors just hours after the President completed his address, is a pretty powerful endorsement of that strategy,' he added.
The release of the images of the soldiers may have also concerned the Navy's higher command, fearing Iran could have extracted some information from them.
A reporter for the BBC News Persian Service said the pair spoke on the five times to negotiate the release of the captives.
The Pentagon lost contact with two small riverine vessels in the Persian Gulf, just hours before President Obama made his last State of the Union address on Tuesday.
They were travelling from Kuwait to Bahrain, the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th fleet when they were stopped. There have been suggestions they drifted into Iranian waters because of mechanical issues - but questions have been raised concerning how the boats could have ended up in the same place.
The Pentagon is also trying to determine why they lost contact with not just one but two of their boats.
Gen. Ali Fadavi, the navy chief of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, told Iranian state TV the American boats had shown 'unprofessional acts' for 40 minutes before being picked up on Tuesday.
He said Tehran did not consider the U.S. Navy boats violating Iranian territorial waters as an 'innocent passage.'
The area is also the route for more than one-fifth of the world's oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, which is controlled by Iran and Oman.
After 16 hours in custody, they were released.
Defense officials said the unit have were taken to Qatar following their release on Wednesday morning. They are set to be debriefed and given medical check-ups.
Republican presidential candidates were quick to jump on what happened, with frontrunner Donald Trump saying it's 'an indication of where the hell we're going'.
One of the Iranian guards flicks through an American passport taken off one of the sailors
The US sailors that had been detained by Iran after being accused of snooping when their boats drifted into Iranian waters. They have now been freed
The detainees were forced to spend the night at an Iranian base on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf before they were released
A female sailor can be seen wearing a makeshift veil she was given by the captors to cover her head
The group were captured after one of the boats reportedly suffered mechanical issues and drifted into Iranian waters and the sailors were seized
The sailors' release came after Iranian state media said the U.S. apologized for unintentionally drifting into occupied territory. But the Americans have refuted the claim.
'Our technical investigations showed the two U.S. Navy boats entered Iranian territorial waters inadvertently,' the IRGC said in a statement carried by state television. 'They were released in international waters after they apologized,' it added.
The Navy have said they will be investigating what happened in a bid to determine why they were in that area of the Persian Gulf.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter welcomed the sailors' release. In a statement Wednesday, Carter thanked John Kerry for his 'diplomatic engagement' on the issue.
Carter also said: 'Around the world, the U.S. Navy routinely provides assistance to foreign sailors in distress, and we appreciate the timely way in which this situation was resolved.'
Kerry released his own statement on Wednesday morning. It read: I'm very pleased that our Sailors have been safely returned to U.S. hands.
'As a former Sailor myself, I know the importance of naval presence around the world and the critical work being done by our Navy in the Gulf region. I'm proud of our young men and women in uniform and know how seriously they take their responsibilities to one another and to other mariners in distress.
'I want to express my gratitude to Iranian authorities 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.'
However he did not apologize.
Fadavi said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif 'had a firm stance' during a telephone conversation with Kerry 'on their presence in our territorial waters and said they should not have come and should apologize.'
After the incident had been resolved, Zarif tweeted: 'Happy to see dialog and respect, not threats and impetuousness, swiftly resolved the sailors episode. Let's learn from this latest example.'
Revolutionary Guards Navy confiscated GPS equipment, which would 'prove that the American ships were 'snooping' around in Iranian waters.'
One of the U.S. sailors who has detained by Iran after his boat strayed into Iranian waters. They have now been released into international waters in the Gulf
They then moved into territorial waters inadvertently before they were captured. The Truman Carrier Strike Group, which is in the vicinity, launched a search and rescue effort, according to the Navy Times.
Kerry has forged a personal relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif through three years of nuclear negotiations.
But Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an NBC News military analyst, said the seizure of American boats is 'very bad news' and highlights how the Navy may have failed to have surveillance on their boats.
GOP politicians blamed President Barack Obama for the seizure of the part of the fleet ahead of last night's State of the Union address.
Trump, who accuses President Barack Obama of being weak on foreign policy, described the incident as 'an indication of where the hell we're going'.
Ben Carson was first to point out the unfortunate timing, saying on Twitter: 'While Potus is preparing to talk about his so called 'accomplishments, 10 of our American sailors are being held by Iran.
Jeb Bush followed suit, saying: 'If our sailors aren't coming home yet, they need to be now. No more bargaining. Obama's humiliatingly weak Iran policy is exposed again.
Marco Rubio added: 'Iran needs to release them and the boats immediately... Iran is testing the boundaries of our resolve.'
Republican Louie Gohmert from Texas spoke to Charles Payne from Fox Business about the incident before the State of the Union, where 10 sailors were taken hostage by Iran. He also reacted to President Obama's State of the Union Address.
He boldly stated, 'This is a country [Iran] that has never been trustworthy. They do not keep agreements. They have not since they have declared war on us … they cannot be trusted and they have been rubbing this administration's nose in their violations, in their untruthfulness. They haven't even signed the deal …'
'This taking of these American sailors is a bonanza, media wise, for Iran. This shows the world – and it will open some eyes around the world – this president, even when they have improperly taken our soldiers and have had them hold their hands behind their heads, this president still sucks up to those that mistreat America. It is a terrible message to be going out …'
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A picture handout by Iranian state media showing the U.S. riverine command boat that was detained by Iran
Pictured is Farsi Island - an area of land completely cut off to the public because of secret activities carried out by the Iranian government - where the sailors were captured
John Kerry (pictured left on Tuesday today in Washington), has forged ties with Iran's foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif (pictured right earlier this month) through three years of nuclear negotiations
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) had many questions for the Pentagon after the situation unfolded.
He said on Tuesday: 'The administration's statements today regarding Iran's actions at sea are disappointing, but not surprising.
'Before we thank the Iranian naval forces and attempt to defend and normalize their behavior, as Vice President Biden and Secretaries Kerry and Carter appear inclined to do, we should demand answers to certain questions about their behavior.
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'Among them: Where exactly were the sailors intercepted? Why were they detained instead of being merely escorted into international waters? What was the nature of the technical malfunctions on both vessels? What is the condition of our boats? Was sensitive equipment compromised? Why were the sailors not permitted to contact U.S. higher headquarters in the region for the 16 hours they were detained?
'I'm also curious why American officials would characterize Iran as assisting a distressed vessel when Iran has characterized the incident as U.S. ships trespassing into its waters and 'snooping.' Iran does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.
'Until we have answers to these questions, we should not be rationalizing Iran's behavior in an incident that was highly abnormal. Our sailors never should have been detained in the first place, and blithely accepting such action will only embolden the IRGC and the ayatollahs who wish to do harm to Americans and our allies in the Arabian Gulf.'
Iran's armed forces chief, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, said the incident should demonstrate Iranian strength to 'troublemakers' in the U.S. Congress, which has sought to put pressure on Iran after the nuclear deal.
Attributing the boats' incursion into Iranian waters to a navigation error marked a de-escalation in rhetoric.
The sailors were part of Riverine Squadron 1 based in San Diego and were deployed to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
When the U.S. lost contact with the boats, ships attached to the USS Harry S Truman aircraft carrier strike group began searching the area, along with aircraft flying off the Truman.
The Riverine boats were not part of the carrier strike group, and were on a training mission, the officials said.
The craft are not considered high-tech and don't contain any sensitive equipment, CBS News reported. This means there was little concern of Iran getting hold of sensitive information.
The IRGC, the Islamic Republic's praetorian guard, is highly suspicious of U.S. military activity near Iran's borders and many senior officers suspect Washington of pursuing regime change in Tehran.
The Guards operate land and naval units separate to the regular armed forces and stage frequent wargames in the Gulf, which separates Iran from its regional rival Saudi Arabia and a U.S. naval base in Bahrain.
Last month, the U.S. Navy said an IRGC vessel fired unguided rockets near the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Strait of Hormuz, a critical shipping route for crude oil that connects the Gulf to the Indian Ocean. Iran denied the vessel had done so.
In April 2015, the Guards seized a container ship belonging to Maersk, one of the world's major shipping lines, in the Gulf because of a legal dispute between the company and Iran. The ship and its 24 crew members were released after 10 days.
The Guards have also seized British servicemen on two occasions, in 2004 and 2007, and a civilian British yacht crew in 2009. On each occasion the sailors were released unharmed after several days.
The Navy's 5th patrols the Persian Gulf, and has a fleet that includes an aircraft carrier.
Quick to climb aboard: Ben Carson was the first Republican presidential candidate to point out the unfortunate timing of the announcement, so close to Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Jeb Bush also chimed in, saying Obama needed to stop 'bargaining' with Iran
On December 31, President Hassan Rouhani ordered the accelerated production of missiles in response to possible new U.S. sanctions.
In a letter to the defense minister published on the president's website, Rouhani said Iran won't accept any limitations on its missile program.
Both the U.S. and Iran insist the missile program is not part of a landmark agreement Tehran reached with world powers in July that is to lift international sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program.