Despite recent tensions between Iran and the United States, the U.S. Navy announced on Friday it had rescued 13 Iranian fishermen being held by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea.
The Pentagon said the rescue was carried out on Thursday by the USS Kidd, one of several warships escorting the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, after the captain of the Iranian fishing dhow asked for help.
The US Navy said the Iranian vessel had been under the control of the pirates for more than a month and was being used as a headquarters for pirate operations. It said the hostages are believed to have been forced to help with piracies.
Fox News reported that the US Navy said the Iranians were given food and medical care, and were released wearing USS Kidd embroidered hats. Navy officials say the sailors are now on their way home and the pirates were detained until transferred to the USS John C. Stennis, where the matter will be reviewed for prosecution.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday the U.S. has not communicated with Iran about the rescue that she called a "humanitarian gesture",Voice of America news reported.
Meanwhile, Iranian media were largely silent Saturday on the U.S. navy’s rescue of 13 Iranians held by pirates in the Arabian Sea while Iran's Foreign Ministry has thanked the US Navy for freeing 13 Iranian fishermen.
Iran's Fars news agency dismissed the rescue as a "Hollywood" dramatization of a routine incident.
On Tuesday, Iranian military chiefs had warned the Stennis, which is currently attached to the US 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, to stay out of the Gulf. Otherwise it would face the "full force" of Iran's navy, spokesman Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi said. The U.S. Defense Department said it won’t alter its deployment of warships into Gulf.