CNN reports that Iran is holding ten American sailors after two small U.S. naval craft apparently entered Iranian territorial waters and were stopped by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
It's unclear whether the vessels, which were sailing near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf, intentionally entered Iranian waters. No distress call apparently was made.
Once he was notified of the incident, Secretary of State John Kerry immediately reached out to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and explained that the boat had a mechanical problem and had accidentally strayed.
As CNN points out, Farsi Island is an area where the Iranian Revolutionary Guard tends to operate, and they are much more aggressive than the Iranian Navy. The "arrested" sailors were nine men and one woman and are now in the custody of the IRGC. A U.S. official said the sailors may be spending the night in Iran, and it's not expected that they would depart until after daylight.
The U.S. has reportedly received assurances that the sailors are safe, are being well-treated, and will be released soon. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told CNN's Jake Tapper,
"Certainly, everybody should be aware of the fact we have been in touch with the Iranians and they have assured us that our sailors are safe and that they'll be allowed to continue their journey promptly."
And if anyone can be trusted to tell America the truth and to release American hostages promptly, it's Iran.
Republican presidential candidates seized the opportunity to tweet criticisms of Obama, whose State of the Union address is tonight.
Ben Carson tweeted: "While POTUS is preparing to talk about his so called 'accomplishments,', 10 of our American sailors are being held by #Iran."
Jeb Bush tweeted: "If our sailors aren't coming home yet, they need to be now. No more bargaining. Obama's humiliatingly weak Iran policy is exposed again."
Ted Cruz: "This is the latest manifestation of the weakness of Barack Obama, that every bad actor ... views Obama as a laughingstock," he said.
Rick Santorum: "WH says our sailors are being given courtesies? This is feckless. WH is endangering our troops. Demand their return NOW!" he tweeted.