News / Middle East

Iran Welcomes US Rescue of Iranians Held by Pirates

U.S. Navy sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd  greet a crew member of the Iranian fishing vessel, the Al Molai Friday, Jan. 6, 2012 in the Arabian Sea. The fishermen were rescued by a U.S. Navy destroyer Thursday, more than 40 days a
U.S. Navy sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd greet a crew member of the Iranian fishing vessel, the Al Molai Friday, Jan. 6, 2012 in the Arabian Sea. The fishermen were rescued by a U.S. Navy destroyer Thursday, more than 40 days a
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Iran has welcomed the U.S. Navy's rescue of 13 Iranians who were held hostage by pirates in the Arabian Sea.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast called the rescue a "humanitarian" act, in comments to Iran's state-run broadcaster Al-Alam.

But Iran's semi-official Fars news agency dismissed the rescue as a "Hollywood" dramatization of a routine incident.

The rescue was carried out Thursday by a U.S. Navy destroyer escorting the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, days after Iran warned U.S. warships not to return to the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. Navy said Friday military personnel from the destroyer USS Kidd boarded an Iranian fishing vessel, the Al Molai, and detained 15 pirates holding the Iranians hostage.  The Navy said it detected the pirates' skiff alongside the Al Molai on Thursday after receiving a distress call from the Iranian ship.

The Iranian vessel had been under pirate control for more than a month.

The pirates, believed to be Somalis, were put in detention at sea on the USS John C. Stennis.

Iran recently threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, in the Persian Gulf, and warned the U.S. not to operate aircraft carriers in the area, something the U.S. Navy routinely does.  U.S. officials have made clear that operations will continue as usual in the Gulf.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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