Probe into Royal Navy sailors' capture begins

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The Royal Navy has begun an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the capture of the 15 sailors released by Iran yesterday.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) advised that rules of engagement, equipment and procedures will all carefully analysed.

The sailors' ordeal began 13 days ago on March 23rd when the crew were seized by Iranian forces in waters close to the dividing line between territorial waters controlled by Iran and Iraq.

Tehran insists the crew were illegally in Iranian waters – a statement vehemently denied by the British government.

Yet Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unexpectedly announced that he would pardon the service personnel as a "gift" to the British people on Wednesday and the personnel landed on British soil yesterday after taking a British Airways flight from Tehran.

However speculation over the patrolling of the Gulf waters since the capture and release of the sailors is rife. The BBC has reported that boarding and patrol operations in the Shatt Al-Arab waterway had been suspended, but this has not been confirmed by the MoD.

"The coalition boarding operations continue," an MoD spokesperson told the Associated Press news agency.

"A full UK contribution will recommence but no timescale has been set. HMS Sutherland will be patrolling while Cornwall [the ship of the captured crew] goes off for replenishment, maintenance and crew stand-down."

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