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Pentagon: We Don’t Yet Know If Sailors Defended Themselves Before Iran Capture

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — It remains uncertain whether or not ten U.S. Navy sailors defended themselves before they were detained by Iran along with their two boats, according to the Pentagon.

Article 2 of the U.S. Navy Code of Conduct dictates, “I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.”

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“If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy,” adds article 3.

Iran has been officially designated by the United States a state sponsor of terrorism.

On Tuesday, hours before President Obama’s State of the Union address, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) seized two Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf and detained ten American sailors onboard, arguing that they illegally entered Iran’s territorial waters.

The Pentagon declared that the American sailors encountered mechanical troubles, forcing their two boats to deviate from their course.

Breitbart News asked the Pentagon to explain why the sailors did not defend themselves and fight back before being captured.

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) spokesman Christopher Sherwood told Breitbart News that the Pentagon will be debriefing the sailors about chronology and the events that led up to their detention — whether they attempted to prevent Iran from capturing them and whether they defended themselves — as well as the conditions under which they were detained.

Asked what Rules of Engagement (ROE) were operating when the sailors were detained, Sherwood responded, “We do not discuss ROE.”

CNN quoted an unnamed U.S. defense official directly familiar with the latest information about the incident as saying that the American sailors were approached by “armed Iranian naval boats, within three miles of the Iranian naval base on Farsi Island.”

The American Navy boats “had drifted off course, but one was also suffering engine trouble, making it impossible for the Americans to rapidly back off and return to international waters,” according to the official.

The U.S. military announced that the ten U.S. Navy sailors and their two vessels have been safely returned to U.S. custody Wednesday.

“There are no indications that the Sailors were harmed during their brief detention,” noted the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in a statement Wednesday.

“The Sailors departed [Iran’s] Farsi Island at 8:43 a.m. (GMT), aboard the two Riverine Command Boats (RCB) that they had been operating when they lost contact with the U.S. Navy,” it added. “The Sailors were later transferred ashore by U.S. Navy aircraft, while other Sailors took charge of the RCBs and continued transiting toward Bahrain, the boats’ original destination.”

“The Navy will investigate the circumstances that led to the Sailors’ presence in Iran,” also said the statement.

On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that “an accident, a mechanical malfunction” led the U.S. sailors to stray into Iranian waters, adding that the situation “was handled diplomatically.”

The State Department spokesman said he is unaware whether the Iranians “ever characterized” the detention of the sailors as an “accident,” suggesting that it was intentional.

Echoing the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Toner declared, “Our initial assessment was that they were treated humanely – provided with blankets, food, et cetera,” referring to the sailors.

However, a picture and video published by the Iranian website IRIB News shows that the IRGC aggressors may have forced the American sailors to kneel before them.

Furthermore, Tasnim, a state-controlled news outlet in Iran, released video Wednesday showing a U.S. sailor apologizing for purportedly violating Tehran’s sovereignty.

“It was a mistake, it was our fault, and we apologize for our mistake,” an unidentified sailor told the Iranian news outlet. When asked if his GPS system penetrated Iran. “I believe so,” he replied.

The State Department has questioned the authenticity of the pictures and videos released Wednesday.

If the U.S. finds that the sailors were not treated in compliance with international rules, “I think we would take appropriate action” against the Iranians, said Toner.

Despite allegations to the contrary, the spokesman said the U.S. has not officially issued an apology to the Iranians.

Toner declined to say Wednesday whether Iran violated the Geneva Convention by putting captured U.S. Navy sailors on television and allowing the sailors to be photographed with their hands over their heads.

Asked if the videos and pictures of the sailors violated the Geneva Convention, the DOD spokesman said the Pentagon legal team is waiting for the conclusions of the investigation into the incident before making any determinations.

CBS News reported that Vice President Joe Biden explained, “The Iranians picked up both boats — as we have picked up Iranian boats that needed to be rescued.”

Iranian officials then “realized they were there in distress and said they would release them, and released them — like ordinary nations would do,” he added.

Like Secretary of State John Kerry, Toner credited the “successful resolution” — the return of the sailors and their vessels — “to the lines of communication that were opened through [the Iran nuclear deal] negotiations.”

Kerry thanked the Iranian regime for releasing the U.S. sailors.

“I want to express my gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter,” he said.

“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,” he added.


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