TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Saturday held a naval parade in the Persian Gulf, amid heightened regional tensions because of provocative U.S. moves.
The naval rally was performed near Iran’s Farsi Island, where Iranian forces seized two U.S. navy boats and 10 crew members for less than one day in January 2016.
Officials said more than 700 boats and military vessels from the IRGC Navy and the maritime Basij volunteer force participated in the parade to mark the fifth anniversary of the arrest of trespassing American forces.
Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the then-commander of the IRGC Navy, said the trespassing occurred because of technical problems with the navigation systems of the U.S. vessels.
The IRGC released the sailors a day later, saying in a statement that "after technical and operational examinations done in interaction with the country’s relevant political and national security authorities and the establishment of the inadvertent and unintentional nature of the entry by the American Navy crafts and their apology, a decision was made to free them.”
The statement said the Americans had apologized and pledged not to repeat the mistake, adding, "the arrested American Marines were released into international waters under IRGC Navy vessels’ watch.”
Ramezan Zirahi, a senior commander with the IRGC, said the boats had traveled to Farsi Island from the southwestern coasts of Bushehr Province to partake in the naval march.
The IRGC Navy, he said, is at the peak of its operational capability and readiness with modern and advanced military equipment to counter any hostile attacks.
Two U.S. Navy crafts, carrying 10 Marines, reached three miles into the waters surrounding the Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf on January 12, 2016.
Last week, Iran seized a South Korean oil tanker and its crew members in the Persian Gulf, which it has continued to hold at an Iranian port for pollution.
Last year, Iran similarly seized a British-flagged oil tanker and held it for months after one of its tankers was held off Gibraltar.
Iran periodically holds military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf waters and elsewhere in the country that it says aim to improve the readiness of its armed forces. Earlier on Tuesday, Iran held a massive drone-only drill coordinated across different points in the country.