New images of British sailors published

New images of British sailors seized by Iran have been published. The sudden release of an Iranian diplomat missing for two months in Iraq raised the possibility of freeing 15 British sailors and marines.

New images of British sailors published

New images of British sailors seized by Iran have been published. The sudden release of an Iranian diplomat missing for two months in Iraq raised the possibility of freeing 15 British sailors and marines.

It also suggests the standoff over the captive Britons may end with a de facto prisoner swap — something both Tehran and London have publicly discounted.

Diplomat Jalal Sharafi arrived in Tehran on Tuesday, hours after he was freed by his captors in Iraq, officials said. He was seized Feb. 4 by uniformed gunmen in Karradah.

Iran alleged the diplomat had been abducted by an Iraqi military unit commanded by U.S. forces — a charge repeated by several Iraqi Shiite lawmakers. U.S. authorities denied any role in his disappearance.

In Baghdad, an Iraqi Foreign Ministry official said the Iraqi government had exerted pressure on those holding Sharafi to release him — but he would not identify who had held Sharafi.

But another senior government official said Iraqi intelligence had been holding him. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not supposed to release the information.

Sharafi was abducted a month after the U.S. military arrested five other Iranians in northern Iraq. The U.S. described one of those captives as a senior officer of the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry official said his government also was working "intensively" for the release of the five other Iranians to "help in the release of the British sailors and marines."

Neither Iran nor Iraq nor Britain has said explicitly that a prisoner swap was in the works. Iran has denied it seized the Britons to force the release of Iranians held in Iraq, and Britain has steadfastly insisted it would not negotiate for the sailors' freedom.

It was unclear whether the Iraqis had won Sharafi's freedom on their own initiative to encourage a settlement, which would ease tension without endangering their own claim to the waters where it occurred.

 

Nevertheless, the release of Sharafi and efforts to free the five other Iranians suggested that the parameters of a deal might be taking shape.

Iran maintains the British sailors had encroached on Iranian territory when they were seized by naval units of the Revolutionary Guards on March 23. Britain insists its sailors and marines were in Iraqi waters and has demanded their unconditional release.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
YORUM EKLE