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  Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Fifteen British sailors and marines released Wednesday by Iran have left Tehran on a flight to London
Fifteen British sailors and marines released Wednesday by Iran have left Tehran on a flight to London, Iran's IRNA news agency said Thursday. The release of the sailors, who spent almost two weeks in captivity, was announced yesterday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the end of a lengthy televised news conference in Tehran. The president said the release of the sailors was "A gift from the Iranian nation to the British nation." The Navy personnel left on a British Airways flight at 08.00 a.m. local time (04.30 a.m. GMT). Iran detained the 15 British Navy personnel in the Gulf March 23 for allegedly violating its maritime border with Iraq. Britain has insisted the servicemen were in Iraqi waters under a UN mandate, and were returning in dinghies to HMS Cornwall after patrolling oil platforms. In return for the release the British will soon consider lifting restrictions on Iran imposed following the incident, the British Foreign Ministry said. The crisis pushed up oil prices and raised fears of military conflict in the volatile region as speculation grew of an impending strike by the U.S. on Iran in April. The U.S. administration has repeatedly accused Tehran of interfering in Iraq's internal affairs by providing weapons and extremist training to the country's Shiite factions. It also suspects the Islamic Republic of covert development of nuclear weapons. In January U.S. servicemen detained five Iranian officials in Erbil, in Kurdistan, confiscating computers and documents without providing any explanation. Shortly before the release of the British sailors, IRNA reported that Iranian diplomats would be allowed to meet the five Iranians detained by the U.S. Another Iranian diplomat, seized separately in February in Baghdad, was released and returned to Iran Tuesday. Iran accused the U.S. of abducting him, a charge the U.S. denied.
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